Pentagon lands extra $50 billion out of debt deal

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, August 2, 2011 11:06 EDT
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Out of a bill that was supposed to cut government spending and waste wherever it is found, lawmakers managed to cobble together an additional $50 billion for the U.S. Defense Department’s budget, using an accounting trick to disguise the move.

Instead of cutting $400 billion from the Pentagon’s budget over the next 12 years like President Barack Obama proposed in April, Republicans put their own cuts at $350 billion over the next 13 years, leaving the nation’s defense apparatus an extra $50 billion it hadn’t planned on.

Disguised as a cut, the Pentagon’s budget boost would have gone unnoticed in the press were it not for McClatchy reporter Nancy A. Youssef.

At the time of his recommendation, President Obama said that part of the savings might come from the scheduled withdrawal of the remaining U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year, as well as a planned drawdown of forces in Afghanistan.

The deal President Obama and Senate Democrats struck with House Republicans will set up a 12-member legislative committee to look at cuts moving forward, and would mandate up to $600 billion in defense cuts if Congress cannot agree on the committee’s recommendations.

Defense industry advocates and some members of Congress have cautioned that the recommendations for defense spending cuts could slice deep and may ultimately trim off much more than current numbers reflect.

The cuts won’t begin until 2014.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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