Fully Funding Defense and Veterans Programs

The Path to Prosperity’s major proposals to protect national security and veterans programs:

  • Fund defense at levels that keep America safe by providing $554 billion for the next fiscal year for national defense spending, an amount that is consistent with America’s military goals and strategies.
  • Replace the indiscriminate reduction in defense spending scheduled to take place under the sequester with targeted reductions in non-defense mandatory spending.
  • Protect defense from cuts that would jeopardize critical missions and the well-being of soldiers and their families.
  • Devote $61.3 billion of discretionary spending in fiscal year 2013 to support veteran programs, which is exactly the same as proposed by President Obama – a 4.3 percent increase above the fiscal year 2012 funding level.
  • Increase government spending on veteran programs by tens of billions of dollars over the next decade relative to the President’s budget.

Q: In a budget that calls for spending restraint across government, is the Department of Defense being spared?

A: The budget resolution offered by House Republicans ensures that the men and women who each day risk their lives in defense of the nation will continue to have the best training, equipment, and support they need to complete their missions and return home safely. This budget is not, however, a blank check for the military. To the contrary, this budget builds on the fiscal year 2012 budget’s call for greater efficiency in the spending of defense dollars. Last year the budget devoted $78 billion of defense spending over ten years to deficit reduction, directing savings from the efficiencies identified under the leadership of Secretary Robert Gates. This year, The Path to Prosperity builds upon these efforts and those by Secretary Leon Panetta to identify efficiencies at the Department of Defense.

While greater savings in military spending are achieved, defense spending is not a core driver of government’s looming fiscal crisis. In contrast to the President’s budget, The Path to Prosperity directly tackles the drivers of the debt, ensuring that our troops and military families don’t pay the price for Washington’s failures.

Q: How does defense spending in this budget compare to the President’s budget?

A: This budget resolution ensures that the base defense budget will not be cut during wartime. The President’s defense budget request is 2.5 percent lower in real inflation-adjusted dollars than what Congress provided for the current year. The House Republican budget provides level funding for defense next year so that the military has adequate funds to accommodate higher than anticipated fuel prices, to maintain training and readiness, and to keep faith with America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.

Over the ten-year period covered by the budget resolution, this budget restores about half of the funding cut by the President and ensures that the defense budget grows in real terms in each year – providing adequate funding to maintain a robust end-strength and to address the years of forgone equipment modernization.

Q: Defense spending is scheduled to be cut by 10 percent next year under the sequester created by last summer’s Budget Control Act agreement. By replacing that cut with cuts in other spending, does this budget violate the agreed-upon Budget Control Act?

A: No. The Budget Control Act (BCA) signed into law last year created an automatic sequester process to force $1.2 trillion in spending reductions in the event that Congress failed to produce equivalent reductions through a specially formed Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (JSCDR). Last November, the JSCDR announced that it could not reach agreement on a deficit-reduction bill by the statutorily required deadline, thus triggering a sequestration process involving across-the-board spending reductions. Congress is now operating in a post-sequester world – one in which defense spending will be cut by $55 billion, or 10 percent, in January 2013 unless Congress acts to replace this sequester by reprioritizing the savings.

These cuts would be devastating to America’s defense capabilities. Leaders of both parties agree that sequester savings should be reprioritized. On August 4, 2011, then-director of the Office of Management and Budget (now White House Chief of Staff) Jack Lew wrote that the sequester was not intended to be implemented: “Make no mistake: the sequester is not meant to be policy. Rather, it is meant to be an unpalatable option that all parties want to avoid.”

Despite bipartisan agreement on the need to reprioritize the sequester’s savings, only the House budget has provided a clear solution that would be implemented quickly to replace the sequester. It does so by using an expedited procedure to reduce lower-priority spending. This solution would cut through the gridlock in Washington to start eliminating excessive autopilot spending immediately. It would protect taxpayers, and it would shield the U.S. military from a crippling, 10 percent across-the-board reduction in its funding.

Q: Does this budget cut spending on veterans programs?

A: No. The Path to Prosperity matches the President’s discretionary request for veterans for fiscal year 2013: $61.3 billion. Over the ten-year window, the House Republican budget is actually above the President’s request on both the mandatory and discretionary side of the ledger.

On the mandatory side, the House Republican budget calls for $720 million more than President’s request. On the discretionary side, the House Republican budget calls for $16.4 billion more than President’s request, increasing America’s funding for services and benefits earned by veterans.

Q: Does this budget neglect to mention veterans?

A: No. This bizarre claim is demonstrably false, as the word “veteran” appears 41 times in the House Republican fiscal year 2013 budget resolution.