Friday, April 22, 2016

Budgeting with the Best

Anyone keeping tabs on the goings-on in the U.S. government knows that the national budget, and the national debt, is a growing concern year after year. And each year when talks of budget cuts and fiscal responsibilities come around, all eyes turn towards the defense budget.

An article on yesterday discussed the proposed military spending budget currently being considered by the House. The issue with it is not that the cuts are too drastic – as many of proposed budgets have been criticized for – but that it retains the same overall budget cost for the military as the previous fiscal year, but somehow would only manage to fund the military for half of the upcoming fiscal year.

The defense budget has come under scrutiny more of late, with the rise of perceived threats in the Middle East, including the Syrian Civil War and ISIL, and the belief that the U.S. needs to be prepared to face these in the coming year. The issue with the half-year budget, then, is that it sets aside such a large portion of the budget for discretionary spending to face these perceived threats that it affects the country's ability to budget for an entire year, and could affect our ability to afford a sensible defense budget for the second half of the fiscal year. On top of that, with the prospect of a new president on the horizon for 2017, the idea of a budget too much in favor of the policies favored by Obama has not sat well with some members of the House.

All in all, with several budget cuts proposed for the forthcoming fiscal year that actually manage to encompass the budget for the entire year, it seems unlikely that a budget without any proposed cuts but which will only account for half a year's worth of funds, will end up succeeding in the House. But the idea that defense spending doesn't need to be cut is one that runs strong throughout the defense community, and much of the government itself, and is what gives this odd proposal its credulity.

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