Obama to request largest Pentagon budget in history

In an environment in which reforms and streamlining are crucial to keeping America safe, it looks as though the Obama administration will continue to push for avoiding reform by piling more money into the already bloated Pentagon budget.

The Obama administration will propose a defense spending increase to levels not seen since 2012 when it sends Congress a $585 billion Pentagon budget request on Monday.

The plan, like others submitted in recent years, will ignore federal spending caps by $34 billion in 2016 and $150 billion over the next five years, according to a source with knowledge of the proposal. . .

Obama will ask for a $534 billion base budget, which would be the largest base budget in history.

Few would argue against giving the Pentagon the necessary funds to keep America safe. Few dispute the idea that providing adequate military capabilities in an increasingly dangerous world is important.

But when it comes to fighting emerging threats such as ISIS, the money’s already there, in the Overseas Contingency Operations budget, which is immune to budget caps and got an additional $64 billion in the latest “CRomnibus” budget deal.

What’s more, the Pentagon budget is loaded with waste, fraud, and abuse, just like any other government agency. Whether we’re talking about over $1 trillion for a jet that barely works or hundreds of millions in excess equipment being sent to local police forces, or any one of countless examples, it’s strikingly clear that there’s no reason to treat this particular bureaucracy with kid gloves.

We’ll keep an eye out for the latest developments and the actual request when it comes out. Runaway spending — from all departments — is a bipartisan problem, and it will take those of all parties to fix it. Let’s keep working toward that goal.

CBO: Nuclear weapons enterprise to cost $348 billion over 10 years

The Congressional Budget Office’s latest report shows the falling but still massive cost of United States nuclear forces, reports Inside Defense.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the cost to maintain and upgrade the nation’s nuclear enterprise is $348 billion through 2024 as the Pentagon and Energy Department pursue new programs to recapitalize the strategic submarine, intercontinental ballistic missile and bomber forces.

The budget office’s latest estimate, down $7 billion over last year’s prediction due to program adjustments, comes as the Air Force searches for money to fund key bomber, ICBM and cruise missile projects and the Navy continues the Ohio-class submarine replacement program. . .

The CBO estimates the Defense Department’s nuclear triad will cost $227 billion to sustain and modernize through 2024, $6 billion more than previous estimates due to a new Minuteman III replacement effort. The Energy Department, responsible for the nuclear warheads, intends to spend $121 billion on nuclear weapons over the next 10 years, a $13 billion decrease.

The annual report is required by Congress and comes as the Obama administration prepares to submit its fiscal year 2016 budget request Feb. 2. The budget is expected to contain additional spending on the strategic nuclear force.

The CBO forecasts that over the next 10 years the administration will spend $160 billion on nuclear weapons programs. Of that figure, $83 billion would support ballistic missile submarines, $26 billion would fund land-based missiles, and $40 billion would be spent on bomber aircraft and their associated weapons. Approximately $11 billion in projected spending would support other nuclear activities.

Additionally, the CBO projects military spending on strategic command, control, communications and early-warning systems and infrastructure over the next decade will total $52 billion, and the Energy Department will spend $79 billion on nuclear weapons laboratories.

Total planned spending equals $299 billion, and the CBO added $49 billion to account for historical cost growth.

Newest CBO report reminds us to cut spending now

Today, the Congressional Budget Office released its latest long-term budget forecast. And while the news is better in the short term, as with previous reports, it’s clear that there’s no reason to be complicit when it comes to spending.

The federal budget deficit, which has fallen sharply during the past few years, is projected to hold steady relative to the size of the economy through 2018. Beyond that point, however, the gap between spending and revenues is projected to grow, further increasing federal debt relative to the size of the economy—which is already historically high.

In a sense, this news is hardly even, well, newsworthy. After all, we’ve seen consistent projections of this upcoming trend for some time. But in light of the fact that both parties have recently shown signs of ignoring spending altogether, this is very sobering news indeed.

Let’s keep working to make sure politicians can’t forget about the debt and spending.

Spending still matters

There’s a chance you noticed what we did on Tuesday night.

The State of the Union address – at over 6,000 words long – referenced “spending” a grand total of… zero times. “Debt” got two mentions, and “deficit” got three. There was the usual laundry list of proposals, estimated to cost more than $41 billion, but details on how to pay for these programs were conspicuously absent.

This absence is new, and it’s not by accident. It stands in contrast to the President’s recent addresses; in 2011, for example, deficits and debt came up at least 11 times. The President’s aids have told media that falling deficits have made the situation become less urgent.

But here’s where the story gets even stranger. The Republican response also ignored spending. Newly elected Senator Joni Ernst included just one single throwaway line about the need to cut waste.

Both parties have contributed to the country’s fiscal mess, and Tuesday night, that fact was on display in prime time. It’s clear that many politicians seem bored with the idea of tough spending cuts now, rather than down the road.

This is the continuation of a trend that began during the election, as many candidates largely abandoned the spending issue while running for office. And now, shrinking deficits and discretionary spending that’s come down from all-time highs seem to have taken the urgency out of Washington, too.

But economic projections, you could say, are stubborn things.

Nonpartisan budget analysis continues to show that short-term deficit shrinkage will begin to reverse after this year, while the debt will accelerate its climb toward unsustainable levels. The major changes we need won’t happen as long as political elites content themselves with kicking the can down the road.

The country still has the same spending problem it’s always had, and now party leaders seem on the verge of forgetting it in favor of other concerns. But we haven’t forgotten, and I know you haven’t either. Let’s keep working to make sure politicians can’t forget, either.


SOTU ignores spending

Over at The Atlantic, Peter Beinart notes something we first noticed while watching Tuesday night’s State of the Union and response.

On both sides, spending was largely ignored.

In 2011, facing a newly elected Republican Congress, Obama uttered those words 12 times. They drained the life out of his State of the Union address. When a Democratic president proposes “freez[ing] annual domestic spending for the next five years” and requiring “painful cuts … to things I care deeply about,” he’s unlikely to exude vitality. It’s hard to explain how government can help Americans live out their dreams when you’ve conceded that the government is broke. . . .

Even more striking was the Republican response. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, representing another newly empowered GOP congressional majority, did not mention debt or deficits once. And denied this tangible evidence of the unsustainability and depravity of big government, she made no real effort to challenge Obama’s speech on ideological grounds. Her sole swipe at excessive government—“we’ll propose ideas that aim to cut wasteful spending and balance the budget, with meaningful reforms, not higher taxes like the president has proposed”—lasted all of one sentence. Then she moved onto cyber-terrorism.

As the article notes, “we’ve been here before.” In the 1990s, economic growth combined with spending cuts to shrink deficits. The anti-spending opposition largely gave up the fight in favor of other issues.

But what the article fails to mention is that all the while, debt and long-term liabilities continued to grow. Economic projections are clear: without major reform, deficit and debts will skyrocket, while major programs become insolvent, within just a few years.

And whether or not political leaders pay attention now or continue to kick the can, we’re working to make sure that our financial future is prosperous and successful.

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