In October 2015, when he was a very, very long shot for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump the businessman promised to make the military “much stronger than it is right now” without increasing military spending. “But you know what?” he declared, “We can do it for less.”
In September 2016, as the Republican nominee, Donald Trump the politician dramatically reversed his position. He now proposes a massive increase in military spending. And instead of making the military more efficient by cutting Pentagon waste, Trump will “fully offset” the increase in military spending by reducing spending on non-defense programs through reducing their “government waste and budget gimmicks.”
For an idea of what that might entail for non-defense spending, consider the Republican budget blueprint passed by the House in early 2015 (no Democrat voted in favor). To offset a significant increase in military spending, the New York Times reports, Medicaid would be cut by $900 billion. Spending on the food stamp program would be shrunk by hundreds of billions of dollars. Spending for Pell Grants for college, job training and housing assistance would be slashed.
The 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) stopped the Republicans from achieving their guns-not-butter budgetary. The BCA emerged from a confluence of events: A soaring deficit, the result of extensive federal spending that stopped a major economic recession from becoming a major economic depression and the Republican takeover of the House after the 2010 election. The result was a dramatic near government shut down showdown on how to cut the deficit.
The White House and Congress couldn’t agree. The BCA was a bludgeon, a crude across-the-board spending mandate intended to spur Congress and the White House to negotiate a more thoughtful approach. They couldn’t. As a consequence, in 2013 there was an immediate $110 billion cut in spending, divided more or less equally from defense and non-defense programs….