Trump's military ambitions could run into budget buzzsaw
As President-elect Donald Trump narrows down his pick for secretary of defense, military spending is close to historic highs with $596 billion budgeted in 2016. The United States spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined, including China, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Trump’s military readiness plan may drive spending even higher. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates his plan would add another $150 billion in spending.
The plan includes building an active Army of around 540,000 personnel and an Air Force of at least 1,200 fighter aircraft. Those numbers are based on recommendations from various government agencies and think tanks.
But that plan slams right into the Budget Control Act of 2011, which placed caps on defense spending from 2013 through 2021. As such, the current defense budget has receded from its recent 2010 peak. The bitter budget battle forced defense agencies to cut back on personnel and spending. Some high ranking members of the military say that's left the United States at a disadvantage, especially as the fight against ISIS has intensified. Deficit hawks contend that the Pentagon has not managed spending effectively.
Unless significant changes are made to that legislation, President-elect Trump and his Pentagon may have to figure out a way to do more with less.