The White House is slated to release its budget request for fiscal year 2016 next Monday, ostensibly kicking off the budget season for Congress. This year, Congress can do much in the way of improving the state of the military by increasing the defense budget to $584 billion.
A recently published report, lays out the specific priorities that must be funded for the Department of Defense and provides a realistic cost estimate for each of those priorities. Those priorities are: (1) stopping cuts to the size of the military; (2) rebuilding readiness, (3) transitioning initiatives out of the Overseas Contingency Operations fund (an emergency supplemental account that is exempt from discretionary caps), (4) increasing investment in the nuclear weapons enterprise, and (5) support modernization programs.
The stark reality is the government has been cutting defense spending since 2010, totaling a 25 percent reduction in annual spending. This has left the country with a smaller and weaker military. Meanwhile, the world is becoming more dangerous.
But Congress does not need to abandon fiscal responsibilities to begin rebuilding the military. Properly funding defense is affordable as long as Congress reforms the main driver of debt, entitlement spending, and cuts inefficient or wasteful domestic discretionary programs. Without reforms, the DOD’s budget could be eliminated and the U.S. would still have a spending problem.
Now is the time for Congress to put forward responsible budget that reforms entitlement spending and properly prioritizes its core constitutional function, to provide for the common defense.