And while the $65 billion for OCO in 2018 specified in the Trump request might seem like a lot of money, it’s $18 billion less than the $83 billion Congress just approved for 2017. The likelihood that the pace of U.S. military operations will decrease by almost a quarter next year—stepped-up activity in the Middle East alone has already reduced overall munitions stocks to an 18-month supply—is near zero. And here’s another point of comparison: Trump’s 2018 OCO request is almost $10 billion less than the average for each year of the second Obama term.

While in Congress, Mulvaney was a die-hard opponent of OCO, repeatedly describing it as a “slush fund.” In written answers sent to the Senate for his confirmation as OMB director, he vowed to abolish the practice. And not only has he turned the 2018 estimate into a cap, but the Trump budget cuts the annual OCO forecast to just $10 billion by 2022, a figure that all but returns to pre-9/11 levels.

The biggest problem for the Pen-tagon is that the Trump budget approach makes it almost certain that Congress will be unable to follow a normal appropriations process—although you could almost say that continuing resolutions, threatened government shutdowns, sequestration, and last-minute “cromnibus” bills are the new normal. The combination of overall spending reductions and very deep cuts in domestic programs ensures that the Trump proposal is, as Sen. John McCain put it, “dead on arrival.”

This is something that won’t surprise Mulvaney. We’ve seen this movie before, with Mulvaney frequently playing a prominent, if secondary, role. More than likely, he is pleased with the prospect of a congressional trainwreck that will work to constrain federal spending closer to the austere levels set in the Budget Control Act. For budget hawks like Mulvaney, disrupting the Pentagon’s fiscal planning is a virtue.

. Indeed, many Democrats understand the need to begin to repair the military and support the higher defense spending levels outlined by McCain and his counterpart on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry. But not at the cost of further cuts to domestic programs.

source–weekly std, thomas donnelly, oco


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