Several times over my 29 years in Congress I have wondered whether there are any fiscal conservatives at the Pentagon.
It seems that the Defense Department is just like every other gigantic bureaucracy. When it comes to money, the refrain is always “more, more, more.”
On November 14, the House passed what one Capitol Hill paper described as a “$700 billion compromise defense bill.” It was $80 billion over the budget caps and many billions more than even President Trump had requested.
I opposed almost all the major initiatives of the Obama administration. But it was false to say that the Defense Department was “depleted” or “eviscerated” during those years, or that now we must “rebuild the military.”
In fact, public relations experts in future years should conduct studies about how the Defense Department has been able to convince the public it has been cut when it is getting more money than ever.
Defense Department appropriations have more than doubled since 2000. In addition, the Department has gotten extra billions in several supplemental or emergency appropriation bills.
The military construction bill is a separate bill that has added another $109.5 billion over the last 10 years. It would be hard to find any U.S. military base any place in the world that has not had several new buildings constructed over the last few years.
In fiscal year 2016, we spent over $177 billion on new equipment, guns, tanks, etc. We have spent similar amounts for many years. Most of this equipment does not wear out or have to be replaced after just one year.
It is ironic that the only President in the last 60 or 70 years who has tried to rein in defense spending is the only President in that period who spent most of his career in the military.