Another CG&G alum, the ever-alert and budget-aware Bruce Bartlett, last week sent me yet another poll showing how popular federal spending has become.
Take a look at question 15 of the poll from The Economist and YouGov, which was completed just a week or so ago. It shows that only 19 percent of respondents support reductions in Social Security and only 21 percent support them in Medicare. Medicaid reductions are supported by more -- 31 percent -- but definitely not anything close to a majority.
Military spending reductions are supported by a majority -- 51 percent -- but that's obviously just in general terms. My guess is that specific Pentagon programs would not be embraced by anything close to that number.
There are five reasons why it was virtually inevitable the White House would make military spending an issue this year.
As the defense budget creeps toward the table in budget discussions on the Hill, we are likely to be treated to more and more of a contest over cuts, savings, baselines, budget projections, and the like. There is no more fun, or frustrating game, than trying to peel away the numbers we get from DOD and get to a transparent reality of what is really going on.
As he approaches his retirement in September, Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, continues to speak the truth about our fiscal problems, their impact on the military budget, and the consequences of ten years of continuous growth in defense spending.
He spoke to the Government Executive media group on April 28 and made four critical points policy-makers need to pay attention to, as the Congress returns from recess.
First, he sees the nation's "debt as the single biggest threat to our national security," a point he has made before and one the Congress will be grappling with as they approach the next stage of the budget resolution, the proposals that may emerge from the Gang of Six, and the forthcoming debate over the nation's debt limit.
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.