It's Still Easy: Obama's $400 billion in defense is not a cut
The $400 billion in security budget reductions between FY 2012 and FY 2023 announced by President Obama on Wednesday turn out to be even easier than one thinks. As the New York Times reports this morning, these aren't really cuts. Using research we did at the Stimson Center, the Times notes that simply holding DOD's budget growth to inflation over those years yields $401.7 billion in savings from the current OMB budget projections. The President's goal is reached and the defense budget is actually not cut; the Pentagon keeps all its purchasing power by rising with inflation.
We won't need a major strategy review to get to this target, even though the President promised one.
And the reductions from the current DOD budget projections may be even less than that; DOD funding could actually continue to grow. After all, the President did use the code words: "security spending" to describe his target. In White House parlance this phrase includes spending for intelligence, diplomacy, foreign assistance, veterans affairs, and homeland security, as well as defense.
So that $400 billion could get spread across several other agencies, lowering even less of a boom on defense. For the data, stay tuned today to The Will and the Wallet, the Stimson website, where we will post the calculations today.