Warring With the Budget
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Shortly after President Obama came into office, he pledged a new era of fiscal responsibility: “And by making hard choices and challenging the old ways of doing business, we will cut in half the budget deficit we inherited within four years.”
Only if it would have worked out that way. When President Obama took office the deficit was more than $1 trillion. Nearly four years later, the debt has mushroomed to more than $16 trillion, and last fiscal year’s deficit was more than $1 trillion as of Sept. 30.
During the last presidential debate, President Obama blamed the high deficits on several things, including “two wars that were paid for on a credit card.”
What about the wars? How much did it impact the deficit?
According to the most recent data by non-partisan the Congressional Research Service (published in March of 2011), Washington spent $1.283 trillion for military operations, base security and other related expenses to the wars since 9/11. Although this number is a little over a year old, it does provide context. Case in point: Under President Obama’s administration, Washington has spent $10.86 trillion.
This is not to say that spending cuts in the Department of Defense are impossible. The realities of waste and fraud in the defense procurement process are well documented. But it is to say that a comprehensive plan is required.
On an essential point, if we’re going to get our national spending problem under control to a point that we are able to cut the deficit in half, it’s going to take a much broader approach to budget reform that requires putting everything on the table.