Monday, February 2, 2015

Budget 2016: Defense Faces Stiff Political Headwinds - Blog

Budget 2016: Defense Faces Stiff Political Headwinds - Blog: The president’s budget for fiscal year 2016 seeks a sizeable boost to defense and domestic spending. But there is little to no chance that Congress will go along. Domestic political disputes and a broken budget process almost guarantee the Pentagon will continue to live under a cloud of fiscal uncertainty for the remainder of the year.

The Obama administration is proposing a federal budget for 2016 that exceeds legally mandated limits on discretionary spending by $74 billion, including $35 billion for defense. For the Pentagon, which has pleaded for relief from the spending caps for the past three years, this ought to be a welcome reprieve. The Budget Control Act restricts defense baseline spending at $499 billion. The 2016 proposal seeks $534 billion for the defense baseline budget and $51 billion for war spending, according to officials who disclosed the figures to reporters ahead of the Feb. 2 release. The president’s budget also increases nondefense discretionary spending by $34 billion.

Whatever Congress ends up appropriating likely will be less than the president’s request but higher than the ceiling allowed by the four-year-old budget law, analysts and budget experts said. The final amount will not be known for months.

The political and fiscal environment, in theory, should be receptive to bigger military budgets. The United States is dealing with complex security crises in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. The federal budget deficit has dropped significantly. And the traditionally pro-defense Republican Party controls both houses of Congress.

But the practical reality is that defense spending decisions continue to be underpinned by Washington dysfunction and a protracted stalemate over government spending and taxes.