Speaking today after a meeting at the Pentagon, President Obama pushed the idea that Congress needs to completely do away with even the pretense of sequestration with respect to military spending, saying they have to prevent the “draconian cuts” mandated.
Sequestration, agreed to because of a rising deficit, was supposed to slow the rate of growth for military spending. The reality is that Congress has ignored the sequestration rules in military budget deals anyhow, though even this higher rate of growth was too slow for the Pentagon’s tastes, and they complained of “cuts,” which are only cuts compared to a hypothetical even less affordable budget.
Congress has been champing at the bit since the new war with ISIS was launched to use it as an excuse to do away with the rules even on paper, and to return to the days when the ability to pay for spending increases was even less of a factor than it is now.
Obama insisted in the new speech that the military needs “equipment and the technology that’s necessary for them to be able to succeed” in the current war, while Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned major projects could be stalled if the rate of spending didn’t grow faster.
Hagel had initially presented the plan for sequestration as primarily reducing the number of ground troops, which seemingly wouldn’t be a problem if the administration was sincere about the current war not involving a US ground invasion of Iraq or Syria. Yet officials instead are now hyping a reduction in the rate of new warplanes acquired, along with ships used to launch missile strikes.
Either way, the funding for the actual war is coming out of an entirely separate budget, the Overseas Contingencies budget, which is itself already immune to sequestration and is seemingly once again on the rise.