February 07, 2014
Defense Spending After 2015: It's Anyone's Guess
The powers-that-be must soon make a decision on how to cut military spending before sequestration returns in 2016.
If this sounds like déjà vu all over again, it's because it is, said Rep. Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. "We face seven more years of sequestration and there is no clear picture of how that's going to be handled," Smith told reporters Feb. 6 at a breakfast meeting in Washington.
While there is considerable anxiety at the Pentagon about future defense spending, budget analysts have noted that the downturn that began in 2010 is relatively mild compared to past post-war slumps. Measured in current dollars, the low points for defense spending reached $373 billion in the 1950s, $384 billion in the 1970s, and $391 billion in the 1990s, according to Russell Rumbaugh, senior associate at the Stimson Center. An often forgotten piece of today's military budget is the additional war funding that this year reached about $85 billion, and is not restricted under the BCA like the regular budget. "The current defense budget is healthy, in the sense that it keeps the military ready," said Rumbaugh. "There's no doubt forces will get smaller, but they are "shaping up to be healthy small."