Obscure Outlet; Good Analysis

From September 2001 to December 2005, the Defense Department increased the number of major programs from 71 to 80, an increase of 13 percent. However, their total costs increased from $790 billion to $1.585 trillion, an increase of 100 percent.

During the same period, military personnel costs increased 45 percent.

Operation and maintenance costs increased 41 percent.

Only a portion of these increased costs are a result of the war on terror. For example, new systems being added to the inventory, such as the F-22, bring with them significantly increased operating costs. Also, the Defense Health Program has doubled since the late 1980s, and the Congressional Budget Office projects it will more than double again by the year 2024.

Altogether, without counting war costs and without expanding military forces, CBO projects future Pentagon spending must increase from 18 to 34 percent just to support existing Defense Department plans.

With the annual defense budget currently in excess of half a trillion dollars, it may have reached the limit of affordability. However, it is on an automatic pilot to exceed itself by hundreds of billions.

The Senate Budget Committee's Budget Bulletin describes a problem that future presidents and Congress will face whether they want to or not.

This edition of the Budget Bulletin is available by clicking here.