Does Obama Run Hot or Cold on Defense?

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Republished from Project on Defense Alternatives.

Comparing the President’s requested budget authority for the Pentagon “base budget” in two successive budgets (FY-2012 and FY-2013) shows a reduction of nearly $490 billion in the years of comparison 2012-2021. This is a subtraction from last year’s plan and not from the CBO baseline, however.

• 2012-2021 cumulative spending in FY-2012 plan = $6.14 trillion
• 2012-2021 cumulative spending in FY-2013 plan = $5.65 trillion

There are other ways to measure progress in bringing fiscal responsibility to defense budgeting:

– Taking the 2012 spending level and holding it steady over the period 2012-2021 with increases for inflation only would produce a cumulative total of $5.82 trillion.

– Taking the 2011 spending level and holding it steady with increases for inflation would produce for 2012-2021 a cumulative spending total of $5.9 trillion.

Either of these might be used as alternative yardsticks for measuring the administration’s austerity efforts in the defense field — and both suggest a more modest rollback: $170 billion over ten years and $250 billion, respectively.

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