Stimson in the News

Gordon Adams’ column on continued drawdowns amidst budget deal in Foreign Policy

in Program

If you think the Defense Department deserves a stable
budget, there is a silver lining to the budget deal emerging from the
negotiations between Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). It is
not clear that the deal is done — one well-informed source I talked to says
50-50 to 60-40 in favor. But if it emerges this week, it will definitely be a
short-term fix. That said, it looks like a two-year deal, so calling it
“short-term” is a whopping misnomer — we’ve been counting temporary
budget deals in months, not years, since the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011.

News over the transom says the deal might raise the BCA caps
for 2014 and 2015 — or, if it doesn’t, it will simply add about $45 billion in
funds government-wide in fiscal year 2014 and another $20 billion in fiscal
year 2015. For the crowd shilling to “stabilize the Pentagon budget,”
half of this increase would be enough to avert the fiscal year 2014 and fiscal
year 2015 sequesters that currently loom in mid-January.

Were there to be a sequester, the base defense budget would
go down another $20 billion from the $498 billion level it was in the fiscal
year 2013 sequester, settling in the mid-$478 billion range. With a two-year
deal, it would be roughly frozen, just below $500 billion. (Spoiler alert: If
the deal is announced this week, the media will say that the defense budget
will be around $520 billion. But this covers the “national defense”
budget function, which includes nuclear weapons funds at the Department of
Energy, plus a handful of other national security programs, largely at the
Department of Homeland Security. The Pentagon itself actually gets about 95
percent of the total.)

To read the full column, click here


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