A top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said Wednesday that the $513 billion defense budget for 2013 cannot be negotiated upwards. Or downwards.
Rep. Adam Smith said the scheduled amount is what Congress approved last year as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011. That means any changes lawmakers try to make will offset cuts elsewhere in the military budget.
“Regardless of who voted for it or against it, it is the law of the land,” Smith said. “I just said regardless, but it does matter because it was this Republican Congress that passed the Budget Control Act that put these numbers in place. Whatever rhetoric comes out of the armed services committee, Republican or Democrat, the House is going to pass a budget with these numbers. There is not going to be any debate in the armed services committee about what the numbers will be.
But the budget will not be cut any further either, he warned. Smith declared the $1.2 trillion across-the-board reduction in federal spending mandated by Congress’s failure to reach an agreement on the deficit will not effect the defense budget. One law counts, he seemed to argue. The other doesn’t.
“Sequestration is not going to happen,” he said, referring to the part of that $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts that requires $500 billion in defense spending reductions over 10 years. He went on to outline ways that requirement could be avoided or rescinded.
Members of the House Armed Services Committee are heavily lobbied by rent-seeking corporations in the military industrial complex, and Smith is a perfect example. The sequestration cuts – approximately $500 billion over 10 years – are minuscule, amounting to a slight decrease in the rate of growth in defense budgets over that time.
At a time when many mainstream politicians note America’s crippling debt problem, the war-making funds in Washington are a virtual third rail, despite the fact that the United States could cut defense spending by half and still outspend every other country in the world.