Even Easier: Obama's Proposed Defense Cuts Revisited
Updating my entry last Friday, we have recalculated the route to get to President Obama's proposed security spending reductions of $400 billion over twelve, yes, count them, twelve years. Not a great step forward, and well below what Simpson-Bowles, Rivlin-Domenici, or Frank-Paul proposed last year, in fact, roughly a third of what they called for.
If you go to the Stimson Center's Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense website, you will see our new calculation, based on the final FY 2011 budget agreement number for defense, which shows that maintaining DOD's buying power (increasing the budget every year by inflation) provides more than $428 billion in savings from the current DOD plan. If one left that $28 billion on the table, one could even claim DOD funding would grow after inflation (a teeny, tiny amount), and still achieve Obama's goal.
But, of course, even that is not likely. Obama was careful to describe these cuts as reductions in "security spending," which means the target agencies include State, USAID, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security. So defense could be spared even more.
It's all theory. Obama will be long gone by FY 2023 and the world and the defense budget will have changed so much that we won't begin to recognize the real numbers. Theory works in politics, sometimes, but it is still theory.