By Tila Neguse
We are extremely concerned about the budget blueprint laid forth by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (WI-1). If our federal budget is a moral document that reflects our national priorities, this proposed budget raises cause for alarm. In a climate where Pentagon spending has more than doubled over the past decade, Congress should not be proposing to increase Pentagon spending further, while drastically slashing domestic spending.
Rep. Ryan’s proposal adheres to the FY2015 spending limits set by the Bipartisan Budget Act; however, his plan would dramatically alter the federal budget every year from 2016 on for the next decade. The plan would shift more than $50 billion a year from domestic spending to Pentagon spending. This budget, like the House budget last year, undoes sequestration for the Department of Defense while maintaining the harsh reductions for domestic spending. Over the past three years, FCNL and many of our partners in the faith community have called for – at the least – maintaining parity between defense and non-defense spending in any sequestration replacement. This budget pays for the dramatic increases in Pentagon spending by making further cuts to non-defense discretionary spending. While it does not specifically remove the firewall that separates defense from non-defense spending, this proposal dismantles the parity principle and, in order to be enacted, Congress would have to override the firewall.
Under the House 2015 Budget:
- The Pentagon budget would rise significantly in 2016, rise further in 2017, and then rise with inflation over the rest of the decade.
- In total, this budget would fund Pentagon spending $319 billion above sequestration caps between FY2016 and FY2021.
- The Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account would continue. OCO funded the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This budget would preserve OCO, even though the U.S. has left Iraq and will make a final withdrawal from Afghanistan at the close of 2014. As the country winds down from two long wars, it is time for significant reductions to reflect a peace dividend.
The proposal in Rep. Ryan’s budget to increase Pentagon spending is unnecessary. Even under sequestration caps, Pentagon spending will still hover at 2007 levels, a time when the U.S. was waging two wars. The age of unchecked budgets and exponential growth in Pentagon spending can and should come to an end. In 2013, taxpayers spent 40 cents on the dollar on the Pentagon, more than twice the amount spent on assistance to low-income households. Yet, this budget further prioritizes militarized spending over spending on programs that strengthen our communities and foster true human security.
By cutting domestic spending to increase Pentagon spending, Rep. Ryan’s budget would undermine the programs that serve communities across the country to boost the already bloated Pentagon budget. This dramatic shift to federal spending does not reflect the priorities of a Faithful Budget, and it does not reflect the needs of our nation.