News Release

Panetta’s Pentagon: “Austerity”?


CARL CONETTA, cconetta at
CHARLES KNIGHT, cknight at
Conetta and Knight are co-directors of the Project on Defense Alternatives, which just released a chart titled “Panetta Releases DoD ‘Austerity’ Budget; Pentagon Retains Most of post-1998 Increase” showing the Pentagon base budget, particularly highlighting that Panetta’s proposal would keep the budget almost level, while sequestration, under the Budget Control Act, would mean a cut in the real budget, but still keep it above Cold War levels.

The group states: “The future-years Pentagon base budget plan released by Secretary Panetta foresees rolling spending back to the level of 2008, corrected for inflation. Spending on the non-war part of the budget during the next five years (2013-2017) will be about 4 percent lower than during the past five (2008-2012) in real terms. The real (that is, ‘inflation corrected’) change from 2012 will be a reduction of 3.2 percent.

“The chart below corrects for inflation by rendering all sums in 2012 dollars. It shows that base-budget spending had jumped 55 percent after inflation between 1998 and 2010. The new budget plan sets 2013 spending at $525 billion, which is 46 percent above the 1998 level.

“The new budget plan — represented by the green trend line — stands in stark contrast to the reductions mandated by the Budget Control Act under the provisions for sequestration (represented by the red trend line). Sequestration would roll Pentagon base-budget spending back to the level of 2004, which would still be 31 percent above the 1998 level (corrected for inflation). The new budget plan and sequestration do have one thing in common: both would keep Pentagon spending above the inflation-adjusted average for the Cold War years (represented by the horizontal dash line).”

See: “Panetta Releases DoD ‘Austerity’ Budget; Pentagon Retains Most of post-1998 Increase.”