President Obama announced yesterday the number of troops that would be remaining in Afghanistan beyond the end of the year. While these levels are not final until the Afghan government agrees, they show the most likely way forward for U.S. military involvement in the country.
Strict limits on discretionary spending have made it difficult for policymakers to fund everything they want. Yet instead of making hard choices and cutting low-priority spending, policymakers have sometimes turned to gimmicks to allow them to accomodate the spending caps while not actually cutting spending. Reps.
The White House issued a statement Monday saying that the President's senior advisers would recommend vetoing H.R. 4435, the annual defense authorization bill reported by the House Armed Services Committee because it rejected meaningful reforms and ignored more than $50 billion in savings outlined by the Pentagon in its FY 2015 budget.
As the Senate Appropriations Committee makes its 302(b) allocations, divvying up funding among the 12 appropriations bills, it will have to deal with an unpleasant surprise from CBO's latest baseline: lower estimated Federal Housing Administration receipts.
Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, wrote a commentary that appeared in the Wall Street Journal Washington Wire. It is reposted here.
The Pentagon's budget faces serious constraints this year as a result of budget caps agreed to last year and rising personnel, healthcare, and retirement costs taking up an increasing share of military spending.
With the U.S.'s involvement in Afghanistan set to wind down at the end of the year, there is some uncertainty about the military presence in 2015 and beyond. Until a security accord is reached, it is difficult to say whether the U.S. will leave a small residual force in the country or whether the U.S. will withdraw entirely. Because of the uncertainty, the Pentagon provided a placeholder request of $79.4 billion (most of the $85 billion war spending total) for FY 2015 without specifying how the money will be spent.
In our discussion of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget, we talked about one area where the budget actually boosts spending: defense. The budget repeals the sequester for defense spending, shifting those cuts to the non-defense side while further reducing non-defense spending. However, the committee report for the budget resolution tightens the caps by clarifying the definition of what can count as war spending.
Much of the focus in House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget inevitably falls on the changes it it would make to mandatory spending, of which there are many. However, much of the budget's deficit reduction comes through further cuts (beyond the sequester currently in place) to non-defense discretionary spending.