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.