July 12, 2012
Interesting Bloomberg/Capaccio Article & Intriguing CBO Report
An important and informative Tony Capaccio article (from Bloomberg; shown below) came out today. It summarizes (accurately) CBO's analysis of the budget effects of sequester: if sequester were to occur, the Pentagon's "base" (non-war) budget would be $469 billion for 2013. This is slightly above what was spent in 2006, and it is "larger than the average base budget during [the Reagan era of] the 1980s." (See page vi and the table on page 11 of the attached.)
This amount is also significantly more than the Pentagon received, on average, during the Cold War, and it is multiples of the defense budgets of China, Russia, Iran, Syria, and North Korea--combined.
This $469 billion is the same amount that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta calls "doomsday," that House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) calls a "catastrophe" and that others, both Democrats and Republicans, want to rescue the Pentagon from--by adding money above the $469 billion level.
These same people will likely argue that this new CBO report is a reason to spend more money, not less. The new report, "Long-Term Implications of the 2013 Future Years Defense Program," is CBO's annual update of its re-estimate of what it would actually cost to implement the Pentagon's programs in the "FYDP," in this case the 2013-2017 version. Basically, like its previous iterations, CBO says DOD would need $53 billion more than it received in 2012 for each of the next five years to accuratey fund all its programs, as currently planned and implemented.
Ergo, the spending advocates will argue DOD needs more money, not less. Their logic is that nothing in the Pentagon should change--other than the amount of money it receives.
How can it be that more money than Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush spent on defense, tens of billions more than spent all through the Cold War and multiples of what any conceivable combination of opponents spend on defense are all a catastrophe for the Pentagon?
Such questions are prompted by Tony Capaccio's article and the new CBO report.
When the House of Representatives debates the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for FY 2013 next week, will these basic questions to be asked, or will there be only more hysteria and table pounding for more money?
Pentagon Would Keep 2006 Spending Power Under Cuts CBO Finds, By Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg News, July 12, 2012.
By: Winslow Wheeler
Director, Straus Military Reform Project, CDI at POGO, POGO
Mr. Wheeler's areas of expertise include Congress, the Defense Budget, National Security, Pentagon Reform and Weapons Systems
The goal of the Straus Military Reform Project is to secure far more effective military forces and much more ethical and professional military and civilian leadership at significantly lower budget levels.
We would like to thank Philip A. Straus Jr. and family for their generous support.
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