Why the Pentagon Budget Never Goes Down, by Mandy Smithberger

When it comes to the defense budget, it’s always meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Consequently, the budget only heads one way, regardless of who’s in the presidency. From Mandy Smithberger at tomdispatch.com:

Joe Biden’s First 100 Days Were a Pentagon Prize

The first 100 days of President Joe Biden’s administration have come and gone. While somewhat exaggerated, that milestone is normally considered the honeymoon period for any new president. Buoyed by a recent election triumph and inauguration, he’s expected to be at the peak of his power when it comes to advancing the biggest, boldest items on his agenda.

And indeed, as far as, say, infrastructure or pandemic vaccination goals, Biden has delivered in a major way. Blindly funding the Pentagon and its priorities in the stratospheric fashion that’s become the essence of Washington has, however, proven another matter entirely. One-hundred days later and it’s remarkable how little has changed when it comes to pouring money into this country’s vast military infrastructure and the wars, ongoing or imagined, that accompany it.

For the past decade, debate about the Pentagon budget was governed, in part, by the Budget Control Act, which placed at least nominal caps on spending levels for both defense and non-defense agencies. In reality, though, unlike so many other government agencies, the Pentagon was never restrained by such a cap. Congress continued to raise its limits as military budgets only grew and, no less important, defense spending had a release valve that allowed staggering sums of money to flow without serious accounting into an off-budget fund meant especially for its wars and labelled “the overseas contingency operations account.” The Congressional Research Service has estimated that such supplemental spending from September 11, 2001, to fiscal year 2019 totaled an astonishing $2 trillion above and beyond the congressionally agreed upon Pentagon budget.

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