This operation is being shortchanged, Mitt Romney says.
As noted here
three months ago, Mitt Romney's plan to supersize the already bloated Pentagon budget by requiring it to appropriate 4 percent of gross domestic product each year is a terrible idea. That's especially so because he also seeks to cut taxes at the same time. Fact of the matter is, it's just a campaign promise, like a lot of others he has made. Whether he plans to keep or jettison it once in office is, like so much about Romney's vows, impossible to guess.
“If you put all of the promises together, it doesn’t all add up,” said Todd Harrison, a senior fellow for defense budget studies at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
“The administration may change, but the math remains the same,” Harrison said. “If you want to increase spending on defense over the next decade and reduce the deficit, then that necessarily means sharp reductions in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid or sharp increases in taxes, or some combination of the two. But those are the major components you have to work with within the budget.”
Instead of a gigantic rise in Pentagon spending, or the more modest rise proposed by the Obama administration, or the actual cuts some in Congress have proposed, what's truly needed is a gradual but substantial reduction, say, a couple of trillion dollars over a decade. That, of course, would require a rethinking of the U.S. role in the world, a realignment of policies and a head-on collision between politicians willing to choose this new path and the military-industrial-congressional complex. So while Romney's proposal is unlikely to come to pass, something really sensible and farsighted is even less likely.
So what would the promised Romney Pentagon budget look like? It depends on two things: how fast the increase to 4 percent of GDP would occur and how fast the economy grows.
If the Pentagon immediately began spending 4 percent of GDP in fiscal 2013, the core budget (not including the costs of shooting wars and maintenance of nuclear weapons, among other things) would rise $112 billion, to $637 billion from what President Obama has proposed, Harrison says. That would be a 21 percent rise. In 10 years, this would mean an increase of $2.3 trillion in Pentagon spending above the Obama budget projections. Harrison used projections of GDP provided by the Congressional Budget Office.
However, even Romney, who has made a big deal of things he will do on "Day One" in the White House, isn't talking about raising the budget to 4 percent in the first year.
If the budget was increased over four years to reach 4 percent of GDP—a single presidential term—Harrison estimates the increase at $2 trillion over a decade. Phased in over the eight years of two presidential terms, the decade rise in Pentagon spending would be about $1.8 trillion. All this is based on speculation, of course, and the biggest speculation of all is about GDP growth. Experts are lucky when they correctly predict GDP for two quarters in a row, much less 10 years.
Be that as it may, another defense analyst that Kate Brannen at Defense News spoke to, Byron Callan at Capital Alpha Partners, calculated that adding one percentage point to today’s GDP growth rate (now at 1.9 percent) would produce core Pentagon budget of $890 billion by 2021. That's measured in inflation-adjusted dollars. In 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates predicted a 2021 core budget of $668 billion. To reiterate: This does not include war spending, care and upgrading of nuclear weapons, benefits for veterans or the interest on debt created by borrowing for that spending.
There's an element usually missing in the talk about this promised 4 percent of GDP spending—first raised by the Heritage Foundation five years ago in its "Four Percent for Freedom" proposal. Romney also promises to keep overall spending from increasing the deficit. So, if he got his way on both that and boosted Pentagon spending, non-defense discretionary spending, which has averaged around 3.7 percent of GDP for the past 30 years and has never fallen below 3.2 percent, would have to be cut to 1.7 percent by 2022.
For Republicans, that would be a budget feature. Not a bug.