A $663.7 Billion Defense Budget*
Let it never be said that President Obama is cutting defense.
Obama’s budget outline today doesn’t *really *include the defense budget. What it includes is the top-line principles for the defense budget — the big big number of $663.7 billion — but the details are still subject to Defense Secretary Bob Gates’ budget review, which will be completed in April. Imagine a car with the exterior frame finished before the engine is installed.
So even though there’s not much under the hood right now, let’s take a look anyway.
First, all that stuff about Obama and Gates agreeing to a $537 billion cap in “base budget” spending — that is, Pentagon expenditures that don’t include operations in the two wars? That’s there. In fact, the base-budget figure is slightly under, at $533.7 billion, which is still four percent over the Pentagon budget from last year. (Again: the idea that this is a cut is either ignorant or disingenuous.) So why the $663.7 figure?
Because this year the Obama administration is ending the Bush administration’s practice of seeking “supplemental” funding for the wars. You’ve been paying this much for defense anyway. It’s just that the Bush people wanted you to see two numbers — one for Pentagon base-budget spending that was around $500 billion and one for war funding that was under $100 billion — because they wanted to make their deficit numbers look smaller by excluding the war costs. That bit of accounting fraudulence is over, and the price of it is a measure of sticker shock.