October 27, 1983 | Executive Memorandum on Federal Budget
2$ 31 billion from -the FY 1981--FY 1983 defense budgets. To recoup part of this loss the Administr ation asked for a 10.2 percent increase in defense spending for VY 1984. How-did Congress respond? In the First Budget Resolution, it cut defense to a 5.4 percent (4,4 percent if pay is included) increase for FY lq84 and 5 percent for FY 1985 and FY 1986, cutting $52 billion from the Administration's budget for those years. Now the House of Representatives is considering its FY 1984 Defense Appropriations bill which will further cut defense to 2.5 percent real growth. And the Senate is considering an appro p riations measure that caps real defense growth at 3.2 percent. 'Both figures are significantly lower than the 4 percent real growth in Soviet defense spending forecast by the Defense Intelligence Agency. This means that the U.S.--instead of catching up to the Russians--will be falling even farther behind in military power. At the same time, federal budget authority for educa- tion, job training, employment, and social services in the U.S. will be rising by about 5 percent in FY 1984. Defense budget cutters justify the deep reductions on grounds that there are many wasteful or unnecessary programs in the defense budget. Most cuts, however, will come at the expense of much needed military capability. For example, the House appropriations bill cuts close to $9 2 0 million for spare and repair parts even though several recent studies have concluded that the Defense Department has understated its spare parts requirements. Minor procurement items, essential for combat readiness and sustainability in war, have been h a rd hit: -$742 million for communications equipment, $1.8 billion for support equipment, and $345 million for Army ammunition. To avoid the challenges arising from outright program cancellation, budget cutters have spread the $18 billion in FY 1984 defense cuts over many programs. The overall effect of the many small cuts in individual programs, however, is to lengthen production schedules for weapons programs (which means higher unit weapons costs) and to delay much needed improvements in combat readiness, raising doubts about congressional commitment to readiness and lower weapons costs. Congress has; an obligation to the American people not only to prevent waste in defense spending but to provide adequate support for a military capable of defending U.S. interests. Congressional defense critics have exaggerated the amount of increases in d efense spending over the past few years and are about to cut defense spending even further. They Should instead be adding to the Administration's budgets to ensure adequate defense of U.S. vital interests. If Congress cuts the defense budget, it takes res ponsibility for the U.S. failing to fulfill its commitments to the free world. Robert Foelber - Policy Analyst For further information: Committee on the Present Danger, Has America Become Number 2?: The U.S.-Soviet Military Balance and American Defense P olicies and Programs (March 1982). Anthony H. Cordesman and Benjamin F. Schemmer, "'The Failure to Defend Defense,"Armed Forces Journal International, March 1983, pp. 32-44. "Congress and the 1983 Defense Budget," National Security Record, January 1983.