Rethinking the Defense Budget…Yet Again

Elizabeth Petrun /

Pentagon (Photo by Newscom)

Washington’s latest over-used phrase—“rethinking the defense budget”—has, for many policymakers, come to mean “what can we cut next?” On Tuesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs convened to identify solutions to tame the growing defense budget. The thinly veiled premise behind the hearing was to identify what the Administration can cut and which cuts politicians can get behind while trying to appear not to compromise national security.

Congress’s continual evaluation of government spending is vital; it can help identify efficiencies as well as waste, and reprioritize programs to reflect changing needs. Unfortunately, this hearing was less about an objective and accurate assessment of what is required to defend the nation and more about justifying defense cuts already in the cross hairs of a task force established by the committee. The recently released report Debt, Deficits, & Defense: A Way Forward by the Sustainable Defense Task Force was central to the discussion. It outlines measures that, if implemented, would cut up to $960 billion from the Pentagon’s budget between fiscal years 2011 and 2020. (more…)