(Note: I am a member of the Board of Directors of the Coalition to Reduce Spending)
If you turn on cable news these days, it’s likely that you’ll be bombarded by talk coming from all sides of the political aisle about “devastating cuts” to whichever government program happens to be a favorite of the individual pundit or politician on the television screen.
Many Democrats are often seen describing Paul Ryan’s budget, which takes 23 years to balance (assuming the long-term projections even hold out) as radical. An equal number of Republicans are up in arms about the so called “sequestration” cuts to military spending as a result of the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA).
But if we cut through all of the political rhetoric, what are we really looking at? Here at the Coalition to Reduce Spending, we’ve delved a bit into why the Ryan Plan is anything but “radical” in the face of a $16 trillion dollar national debt and $120 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities.
And over at the Mercatus Center, Veronique de Rugy has an informative piece out that shows why the heated rhetoric about alleged cuts to military spending is essentially political theater.
Via de Rugy:
To understand the effects of sequestration on future defense spending, it is important to understand how the BCA spending caps and sequestration apply to the base defense budget alone and when war spending is considered.
She then goes on to share an extremely helpful graph that she put together:
In regards to the above image, de Rugy added:
Projections outlining the future path of the defense base budget are depicted by combining the red and purple regions, which represent the defense base budget if spending is capped under levels stated in the BCA. Taking away the red region and leaving the purple region shows the projected base budget if sequestration occurs in tandem with the BCA caps. And, lastly, adding the blue region to the red and purple combined accounts for future base and war spending.
Ultimately, de Rugy concludes that because war spending is not capped to meet the levels outlined in the BCA, Congress can set the level of direct war spending above what is necessary as a preemptive way of avoiding the sequestration related caps on military spending.
As de Rugy notes:
While there is uncertainty about the application of the sequester on war spending (see this article in The Hill), it is guaranteed that there are preemptive measures that policymakers can take to limit sequestration’s effect: propping up war spending to make up for losses in non-war accounts.
There’s no doubt that properly funding our military is constitutionally necessary. But as Veronique de Rugy’s observations prove, there’s a great deal of intellectual dishonesty coming from Washington about the real nature of alleged “spending cuts” – which ultimately does everyone a disservice. When politicians use shady accounting tricks to frame the debate in a way that intentionally misleads the public, we all pay for it; by the trillions.