In his West Point speech announcing his 30,000 troop escalation in Afghanistan, President Obama declared that he was committed to addressing the ongoing costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan “openly and honestly.” Though he did not get into specifics, Obama said he would “work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit.”
Some Democrats, such as Rep. David Obey (D-WI), have suggested a war surtax to pay for the estimated $30 billion it will cost to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. But the Obama administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have rejected a tax. In a new report from the Center for American Progress, Lawrence Korb, Sean Duggan, Laura Conley, and Jacob Stokes recommend that the administration “look to the base defense budget” to pay for the escalation:
Rather than allow the supplemental and additional costs of the escalation for FY2011 to add to the large and growing national deficit, the Obama administration should look to the base defense budget for programs and weapons platforms that can be eliminated or scaled back without jeopardizing our national defense strategy or capabilities. Our allies in Great Britain have adopted such a policy. In order to pay for the cost of sending an additional 500 troops and supporting equipment to the front lines in Afghanistan, the British government is currently “reprioritizing” existing Ministry of Defense spending, including domestic cuts in civilian staff, and a commitment to improve procurement.
Noting that defense investment funds have “grown by approximately 75 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars over the past decade,” they recommend adjustments to “nine costly and outmoded weapons platforms and programs and an across-the-board reduction in research, development, test and evaluation funding” that could save some $40 billion in the next fiscal year:
On Washington Journal this morning, Korb explained how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan “are the first wars in our history” where Americans fiscally “haven’t been asked to make any sacrifices.” “Not only did we not raise taxes, we actually cut them and because of that we have this tremendous budget deficit,” said Korb. Watch it: