The media is breathlessly reporting on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s newly announced Pentagon budget proposal, which — OMG! — reduces the number of troops to the lowest number since before WW2! These are very deep, major cuts in spending, you guys. Except, of course, they aren’t. From Hagel’s speech announcing the “cuts.”
On March 1, 2013 – one year ago this week – steep and abrupt automatic spending cuts were imposed on DoD and other agencies across the government under the mechanism of sequestration. For DoD, these irresponsible cuts amounted to $37 billion last fiscal year. These cuts came on top of the $487 billion, ten-year defense spending reductions required by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
As sequestration was being imposed, the President submitted a Fiscal Year 2014 budget plan that would have fully repealed those cuts in favor of balanced deficit reduction. That would have given DoD the resources needed to fully implement the President’s January 2012 defense strategy and maintain a ready and modern force.
Two months ago, rather than fully repealing sequestration, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act, which provided DoD with some relief in this Fiscal Year and for Fiscal Year 2015. The Bipartisan Budget Act gives DoD much-needed budget certainty for the next fiscal year. But, defense spending remains significantly below what the President requested in his Fiscal Year 2014 budget request and five year budget plan.
Under the spending limits of the Bipartisan Budget Act, DoD’s budget is roughly $496 billion this Fiscal Year – or $31 billion below what the President requested. The law also limits DoD spending in Fiscal Year 2015 to $496 billion, which is $45 billion less than was projected in the President’s budget request last year. So while DoD welcomes the measure of relief and stability that the [Bipartisan] Budget Act provided, it still forces us to cut more than $75 billion over this two-year period, in addition to the $37 billion cut we took last year and the Budget Control Act’s 10-year reductions of $487 billion. And sequestration-level cuts remain the law for Fiscal Year 2016 and beyond.
The President will soon submit a budget request that adheres to Bipartisan Budget Act spending limits for Fiscal Year 2015. But it is clear that under these limits the military will still face significant readiness and modernization challenges next year. To close these gaps, the President’s budget will include an Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative. This initiative is a detailed proposal that is part of the President’s budget submission. It would provide an additional $26 billion for the Defense Department in Fiscal Year 2015…These additional funds would be paid for with a balanced package of spending and tax reforms, and would allow us to increase training, upgrade aircraft and weapons systems, and make needed repairs to our facilities. The money is specifically for bringing unit readiness and equipment closer to standard after the disruptions and large shortfalls of the last few years. I strongly support the President’s proposal.
The President’s budget for Fiscal Year 2015 will also contain a new five-year defense budget plan, mapping out defense programs through 2019. Over five years, this plan projects $115 billion more in spending than sequestration levels.
The reason we are requesting this increase over sequestration levels is because the President and I would never recommend a budget that compromises our national security. Continued sequestration cuts would compromise our national security both for the short- and long-term.
This kind of nonsense is bad enough coming from Republicans, but when it comes to defense spending and foreign policy there is no longer any meaningful difference between the two parties. We spend nearly half of all the money spent in the entire world on “defense” (which we use almost entirely for offense, not defense) and they seriously expect us to believe that these tiny little cuts, which are still higher than the sequester cuts from last year, is going to compromise our national security? Can anyone really believe that? Look at this chart:
We spent nearly four times what China and Russia do combined. And the next 11 biggest spending nations are all our allies. Yeah, I’m going to stay up at night shaking at the thought of us spending only 45% of the world’s defense spending instead of 47%. My eyes could roll from here to Timbuktu and back hearing that nonsense.