The Civil-Military Challenge to National Security Spending
October 2, 2013
Perhaps the worst part of the debate that has led to the shut down of the federal government is its almost total irrelevance. It threatens both the US economy and US national security, but it doesn’t even begin to touch upon the forces that shape the rise in entitlements spending or their underlying causes.
The Congressional debate does not address the forces that have led to a form of sequestration that focuses on defense as if it were the key cause of the deficit and pressures on the debt ceiling. It does not address the irony that much of defense spending has direct benefits to the US economy and that the spending on foreign wars – the so-called OCO account – dropped from $158.8 billion in FY2011 to some $88.5 billion in FY2013, and is projected to drop to around $37 billion in FY2015.
Much of the debate focuses on the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” – a program whose balance between federal expenditures and revenues is sufficiently uncertain so the Congressional Budget office can only make limited forecasts, but whose net impact cannot come close to the cost pressures that an aging America and rising national medical costs have put on Federal entitlements in the worst case, and may actually have a positive impact in the best case. The Burke Chair has developed a briefing that provides a range of estimates that address the real issues that are shaping the overall pressures that poverty, an aging America, and rising medical costs are putting on the US economy and federal spending.
This briefing is entitled The Civil-Military Challenge to National Security Spending, and is available on the CSIS website at http://csis.org/files/publication/131002_civil_military_challenge_2.pdf. It draws on a range of sources to show how different estimates affect key trends, but focuses on data provided by a neutral arm of the same Congress that has paralyzed the US government and whose action threatens the funding of a viable national security strategy.