Brian Beutler at TPMDC is on a Howard Beale-esque rampage against journalistic portrayals of the Gates defense budget’s program cuts as cuts in the total defense budget. This is really, really simple. As I reported yesterday, we don’t know if the cuts will actually result in savings, since we don’t know the price tag of what will replace the programs Gates junked. (F’r instance: Gates killed the Future Combat Systems’ vehicle-modernization program, but said there will be an alternative vehicle-modernization program put up for bid later this year; so we don’t know whether or if the FCS cut saves any money.) At the same time, Gates is asking for $534 billion for defense in the coming fiscal year — $663.7 billion when you factor in the cost of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars — and that’s a bit more money than the final defense budget of the George W. Bush administration. Lots of people have been calling this a cut in the defense budget. That. Is not. True.