In its annual report on Pentagon spending, the Center for American Progress recommends that the Obama administration submit a “unified” national security budget that would cut military spending, trim the deficit and boost spending on alternative energy.
The left-leaning think tank agrees that sequestration’s across-the-board approach is untenable. But that does not mean the budget can’t be cut.
Military accounts could be cut by $71.8 billion in fiscal 2013, the report says, through a variety of reductions including cutting $20 billion from U.S. nuclear forces, ending production of’s Osprey and stretching out the Virginia-class attack submarine program.
The report recommends reinvesting $29.2 billion in nonmilitary security accounts, including a $20 billion investment in alternative energy and the rest shoring up diplomatic efforts.
The budget should tie military and other security accounts together to spare other security accounts – not the other way around, as Congress has done recently.
“More often than not in the past year, the security/nonsecurity frame of budgeting — unified security budgeting — has been proposed not as a way to rebalance security accounts but as a way to protect the military account at the expense of other parts of the security budget,” the report says. “These proposals would exact disproportionate cuts to the nonmilitary parts of the security budget, making the imbalance between military and nonmilitary resources even more extreme.”
The reduction to U.S. nuclear forces draws on a 2010 Air War College report that recommended a 90% reduction to the nuclear arsenal, bringing the total force to 311 weapons.
CAP has perennially recommended canceling the V-22 and scaling back Virginia-class submarines. Year after year, Congress and the administration have fended off challenges to their funding.
Larry Korb, senior fellow at the center, maintains that the Osprey should never have been built. “Why do we keep throwing money at this thing?” Korb asks.
Korb, who served in the Pentagon under President Reagan, acknowledges that stretching the buy of Virginia-class submarines might cost more money in the long run, but says the funding could be better put toward embassy security or diplomacy.
“If you give up something like aid to Mali, then you’ll have a bigger problem down the road,” he says.