Budget Caps Have a Role in Taming Defense Spending, Experts Say

Budget Caps Have a Role in Taming Defense Spending, Experts Say

Despite almost-universal opposition to the statutory spending caps from defense advocates since the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) was enacted, defense budget experts on Monday said the limits should remain in place to keep DOD spending in check.

“I would keep the Budget Control Act, or at least budget caps, because I think the process needs discipline, but I would raise them for defense and probably non-defense also,” former Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said during a discussion at the Brookings Institution.

Ideally, Congress would reach a multi-year budget deal that addresses entitlements, revenue and the deficit, said Hale, currently a senior fellow at Booz Allen Hamilton, reported Defense News.

Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, echoed Hale. “I think the disciplining notion of a cap is useful. I think it should be paralleled on the revenue side,” MacGuineas said.

She also agreed that in the absence of a long-term deal, it makes sense to raise the budget caps to allow more discretionary spending for defense and non-defense programs.

Alice Rivlin, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget, criticized the Budget Control Act for focusing on discretionary spending while ignoring entitlement programs and changes to the tax code.

“I wouldn’t revise the BCA, I would repeal it and replace it with a broader budget process that forces the Congress to think ahead, and several decades ahead,” said Rivlin, a senior fellow at Brookings.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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