Friday, September 4, 2009

Army Times inadvertently explains government budgeting hypocrisy

First, read the Army Times story:

A speedier withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan would shave $1.1 trillion off the budget in the next decade, a new congressional budget projection says.

That would be a sizeable cut in defense-related spending from 2010 through 2019, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates at $7.4 trillion.

The budget forecast, issued as Congress is about to return from a summer break and confront questions about budget priorities and deficit spending, says defense costs are uncertain because budget analysts cannot predict the number of deployed troops and the pace of operations.

The $7.4 trillion price tag is based on the number of deployed troops remaining at about 210,000, but looks at two scenarios for reductions:

• A sharp reduction in troops over three years, resulting in $1.1 trillion in savings. Under this projection, the number of deployed troops falls to 160,000 in 2010; to 100,000 in 2011; to 35,000 in 2012 and to 30,000 from 2013 to 2019.

• A more gradual decline that shaves $700 billion off the $7.4 trillion defense spending estimate. It assumes 210,000 deployed troops in 2010; 190,000 in 2011; 150,000 in 2012; 100,000 in 2013 and 75,000 in 2014 and beyond.

The report does not suggest what the money saved from the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan should be used for, but the Defense Department surely would make a bid to keep at least some of it to pay for unfunded weapons modernization programs.

The budget and economic update notes that Congress has allocated $944 billion so far for Iraq and Afghanistan operations — $849 billion in direct spending by the Defense Department, $51 billion for diplomatic efforts, $42 billion to aid Iraq and Afghanistan police and military forces and $2 billion to cover costs such as increases in veterans benefits and services.

Note the sentence in bold. The $7.4 Trillion dollars for the Defense budget through 2019 is predicated on the US maintaining 210,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next ten years.

When did President Obama tell us that his plan was to keep 210,000 troops in these two countries for a decade?

Moreover, the 30,000 troops quoted in plan 1 and the 75,000 troops quoted in plan 2 represent the extremes of administration troop estimates of the permanent force in Iraq alone, as envisioned by the administration.

Leaving no troops for Afghanistan after 2013 or 2014?

Damn, I knew General McChrystal was good, but I never realized he had promised we could win the war and get the hell completely out of Afghanistan in four years.

This is one of those phony Government assertions that the administration is saving us money by counting the savings against a troop level (210,000 for the next decade) that nobody has ever proposed, and which would be completely unsustainable by the US military at its current size and budget.

So what's the purpose?

The purpose is to sell you on the idea that accepting either a $6.7 Trillion or $6.3 Trillion dollar US Defense budget for the next decade (which works out to an average of $650 Billion/year, far higher than the Pentagon actually got this year and higher than any of the Bush-era Defense budgets) is actually a good deal because it could have been worse.

Yeah: instead of raising the Defense budget from about $540 Billion to $640 Billion per year, President Obama could be asking for $740 Billion each year.

Ain't we lucky?

Truth-in-advertising: President Obama merely joins a long line of US Presidents going back at least to Ronald Reagan who have employed this tactic to sell increases to the Defense budget as savings. As much as it galls some folks to read it, the evidence is pretty clear: since 1980 Bill Clinton was the President to ever prune back the Defense budget. He did it badly [primarily because Secretary William Cohen did not exercise any control over the services as they did idiotic things with the reduced budgets), but he did it.

President Obama--the supposed socialist leftist--is proving to be just as much of a war hawk as anybody since--I don't know--LBJ.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How is it that you do not have a daily column on the News Journal's editorial page?