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CBO Director Outlines Scope of Pentagon Cuts

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  • October 26, 2011
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DOD spending could be slashed by as much as $882 billion over the coming decade in the event that automatic spending cuts are triggered, Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) told the congressional deficit reduction committee Wednesday.

While Elmendorf’s estimate would seem to be significantly lower than the $1 trillion projection others have used when referring to the devastating result of budget sequestration, it’s not clear that the two figures are that far apart.

DOD’s estimate of the cuts required under the initial round of the debt ceiling deal approaches $450 billion, while the White House and Congress have used a $350 billion figure. The two figures are roughly comparable, however, since DOD measures the needed cuts against its fiscal 2012 budget request, while Congress measures the cuts against CBO’s baseline, which is about $100 billion lower than the department’s FY 2012 budget plan.

Elmendorf highlighted one fact about the defense budget which could be used to support claims that the department’s budget cannot absorb any cuts beyond those already called for.

DOD budgets understate the amount of spending that its future years defense plan requires, meaning the department’s budget already is inadequate, Elmendorf said, according to CQ Today. The department’s spending plans for FY 2012 through 2021″would exceed by about $480 billion the amounts projected by assuming that current budget authority increased by the rate of inflation,” he said.

Elmendorf’s testimony is available on the CBO website.

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