Through the Fiscal Looking Glass
Gabriel García Márquez died this month and Lewis Carroll has been dead for decades, now. But the memory of magical and upside down thinking, which they captured so well, lives on in the Pentagon. The Pentagon planning machinery (and the congressional Armed Services Committee members) are working from that script, with no shame at all. They continue to walk through the looking glass, engage in magical thinking, and stand budgetary realities on their head — all in the hopes that somehow new language and unreal numbers will lead Congress and the White House to decide that the August 2011 budget deal was just a big mistake, that all is forgiven, and that bigger defense budgets will be soon be arriving.
Once again, reality has been pushed aside in the defense
budget debate. The administration transmitted a budget which, across the board,
and especially when it comes to the Defense Department, departs from reality. A
deal is a deal, however, so it asks the appropriate amount for defense this
year — $496
billion in FY 2015 — in keeping with the Murray-Ryan
agreement. But then the whole budget logic evaporates into magic and
rhetorical excess. The administration wants another $26 billion for defense (and
the military services want even more) this year, just in case anyone wants to
throw the 2011 deal over the side right away. They even give this request a
funny name: the “Opportunity,
Growth, and Security Initiative,” or OGSI.
To read the full column, click here.