A new report out this week by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projects that if the Budget Control Act’s automatic spending cuts take effect, the Pentagon’s budget, in 2013 dollars, will still be larger than what it was in 2006, a finding that undermines claims that sequestration will be “devastating” to the military and the defense industry:
Accommodating those reductions, in particular, could be difficult for the department to manage because it would have to be done over only nine months. Even with that cut, however, DoD’s base budget in 2013 would still be larger than it was in 2006 (in 2013 dollars) and larger than the average base budget during the 1980s.
The automatic spending cuts would amount to about a $500 billion reduction in military spending over the next decade. Much of the hyperbole about the cuts has come from Republicans on Capitol Hill, the defense industry and even Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who once said the cut “invites aggression.”
“We’re moving dangerously close to not being able to guarantee the security of the United States of America,” said Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) about the cuts. And big military contractors like Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman overhype the cuts as well, warning of massive job losses (despite the fact that military spending is not meant to be a jobs program) and a severe downturn in the economy if the cuts are allowed to take place (experts have pushed back on those claims). Republicans even proposed cutting 25 percent from programs directly benefiting the poor in order to stave off the military spending cuts.
But the new CBO study undermines all the fearmongering. “The comments from many — but not all — Republicans, most defense manufacturers and the secretary of defense that they regard a budget well above Cold War averages to be a catastrophe is consciously constructed, misinforming hysteria,” said defense budget expert Winslow Wheeler of the CBO’s calculation.
Bloomberg News notes that the CBO’s new finding “buttresses the view of some independent budget analysts.” Indeed, one such analyst is CAP’s Lawrence Korb, who has been saying for many months what the CBO report concluded this week. Referring to the $500 billion in military spending reductions President Obama instituted and the sequester’s $500 billion cut, Korb wrote nearly a year ago: “Even if the defense budget were reduced by the entire $1 trillion, or about $100 billion a year over the next decade, it would amount to a reduction of about 15 percent. This would, in real terms, allow the Pentagon to spend at its 2007 level for the next decade.”