Congressional Hawks Want More Defense Spending Than Trump Seeks
by Stephen Lendman
House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry (R. TX), his Senate counterpart John McCain (R. AZ), and likely most other congressional hawks want more defense spending than Trump proposed – his sought increase more than 80% of what Russia spent last year, reported by RT.
He wants already bloated spending for militarism increased by $54 billion to $603 billion. Thornberry and McCain proposed a $640 billion base budget – not counting hundreds of billions of dollars spent annually in areas related to defense, huge intelligence black budgets, and frequent appropriated add-ons for US imperial wars.
America spends well over $1.5 trillion annually on so-called defense, with all related categories included, despite having no enemies except invented ones.
In a statement only neocons and war-profiteers could love, McCain said Trump’s proposed increase is “a mere 3 percent above President Obama’s defense budget, which has left our military underfunded, undersized, and unready to confront threats to our national security.”
“With a world on fire, America cannot secure peace through strength with just 3% more than President Obama’s budget. We can and must do better.”
Fact: America’s defense spending constitutes a black hole of waste, fraud and abuse. Government watchdogs identified hundreds of billions of dollars in potential savings from unneeded weapons, defective ones, no-bid excess, overpayments, and outright fraud.
Fact: The Defense Department and related areas have a virtual blank. War-profiteers cash in hugely. Congress ignores abusive practices, handing the Pentagon what it wants on the phony pretext of national security.
Fact: US imperial wars set the world ablaze. Peace and stability are anathema to administration and congressional policymakers. Endless wars on humanity are prioritized. The only solution is waging peace, a nonstarter in Washington.
Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney said it’s too soon to know how his proposed defense budget will make America’s military more muscular. A fuller DOD budget will come in May.
It’s unclear how added funds will be spent – other than for endless warmaking – at the expense of vital social and other domestic programs if Republicans get their way.
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments defense budget analyst Katherine Blakely said Trump’s plan is designed to be “politically untenable for the Democrats while trying to be as favorable as possible for the Republicans.”
CATO Institute’s Benjamin Friedman believes the plan “won’t happen because Democrats will block it.”
Since budget caps were imposed under Obama (2011 Budget Control Act sequestration, addressing the debt-ceiling), Democrats pushed for maintaining a one-for-one trade between defense and domestic spending.
If congressional appropriations exceed these caps, broadly defined categories in all departments and programs are cut by an equal percentage, including defense – at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
It’s the law of the land unless Congress changes it, enacted by Trump signing legislation. Republicans need 60 Senate votes to raise budget caps.
Democrats won’t likely agree without non-defense discretionary spending increases matching defense ones. Whether things work out this way remains to be seen.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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