The Simpson-Bowles alternative budget resolution put forward this week by Representatives Cooper, LaTourette, Schrader, Bass, Quigley, Dold and Costa has come under fire for a number of reasons, but one of the seemingly more confusing points is what it does to war spending.
One of the more complicated aspects of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget is what he does with the sequester that will take effect on January 2, 2013 due to the failure of the Super Committee. From 2013-2021, the sequester is scheduled to reduce the deficit by $984 billion, with $66 billion coming in 2013. The sequester essentially has three parts: cuts to defense spending, cuts to non-defense spending, and cuts to mandatory programs, including Medicare (limited to two percent).
With CBO recently having scored President Obama's 2013 Budget Request, included within the total score is a score of a policy known as capping Overseas Contingency Spending. While this is a good policy, this policy, when coupled with counting it is deficit reducing or using it to offset other spending, which President Obama, like many others before him, have done, is quite simply a gimmick.
Military pensions for high-ranking officers are going up significantly, according to a USA Today article. Due to a change in the Defense Authorization Act of 2007 that was intended to dispel concerns about losing too much of the top brass during wartime, pensions increased by as much as 63 percent for some officers.
Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta fleshed out the widely-anticipated FY 2013 defense budget. The budget showed to some extent how the Obama Administration plans on meeting the defense reductions that are necessary because of the discretionary spending caps in the Budget Control Act.
While Panetta's briefing was not as detailed as next month's budget, it included more details than we had heard in previous speeches and laid down the topline defense numbers the Administration will propose over the next five years.
Update: The American College of Physicians has also called for eliminating the SGR and the sequester and partially paying for them with war savings. To their credit, though, they propose a number of other scoreable savings options like having uniform cost-sharing for Parts A and B of Medicare, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, accelerating the health insurance excise tax or limiting the health exclusion, and enacting tort reform.