Defense Spending

Are Republicans "the Cocaine Monkeys of Defense Spending"?

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Over at The Daily Beast, Reason columnist and Mercatus policy analyst Veronique de Rugy calls congressional Republicans "the cocaine monkeys of defense spending."

The opening battle in Congress over the fiscal 2016 budget is illustrative. Ever since Congress and the Obama administration capped the defense budget under the 2011 Budget Control Act—the so-called "sequester" agreement that allowed the debt ceiling to increase—Republican military hawks and their conservative backers have been chomping at the bit to undo the so-called "damage." It was actually quite funny—for a while—to watch Republicans become full-blown Keynesians, arguing that defense cuts would destroy the economy and threaten jobs.

Back when the Afghanistan and Iraq wars started, the Republican majority created a fund for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) that wasn't limited by normal budgetary constraints. As de Rugy documented in a 2008 Reason cover story, the use of such funds allowed the GOP to spend tons of money without having to fully account for it in normal ways. The party of Lincoln is still at it:

How much money does the GOP want to shove into the OCO slush fund? Both the House and Senate budget resolutions would add $38 billion to the president's $58 billion OCO request for a total of $96 billion. That $96 billion would be on top of base national defense funding of $523 billion, which is the maximum allowable under the caps, for a total of $619 billion.

I understand that this move is an attempt to appease both sides of the Republican Party, the defense hawks and the debt hawks. But it remains infuriating. Instead of just busting the defense cap and finally dropping any pretense that they were ever serious about tackling the Pentagon's bloat, the GOP decided to make a mockery of it.

Indeed. Whatever else you can say about President Obama, he openly flouts the budget caps (and wants to spend $612 billion on defense, the softy). De Rugy divines the likely outcome of this whole situation: When push comes to shove, the GOP will compromise with the president, giving him more domestic spending in exchange for getting more defense spending.

A regular Washington win-win, except for the taxpayers, of course.

Read the whole Beast piece here.

And as long as we're talking about cocaine monkeys, Stop the Madness!: