Budget ‘Enforcement Mechanism’ puts Pentagon in Crosshairs

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Earlier today I made a mistake in a post about how deep defense cuts could become under the budget deal. They are, in fact, deeper than I thought.

The way the deal works, a congressional committee by Thanksgiving is supposed to come up with $1.5 trillion in savings over ten years. If the committee fails, or if Congress fails to agree to the committee’s findings, then $1.2 trillion in cuts kick in automatically over ten years — and half of that comes out of “defense” spending.

I wrote earlier that the automatic cuts might be too deep, because the VA and State Department and other agencies would be considered part of “defense” spending. Turns out I was wrong. (I fixed that earlier post).

According to the bill, those $750 billion in automatic cuts must come from “discretionary appropriations in budget function 050.”

Here is the definition of 050 from the House Budget Committee:

The National Defense function includes the military activities of the Department of Defense (DoD), the nuclear-weapons related activities of the Department of Energy (DoE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration, the national security activities of several other agencies such as the Selective Service Agency, and portions of the activities of the Coast Guard and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The programs in this function include: the pay and benefits of active, Guard, and reserve military personnel; DoD operations including training, maintenance of equipment, and facilities; health care for military personnel and dependents; procurement of weapons; research and development; construction of military facilities, including housing; research on nuclear weapons; and the cleanup of nuclear weapons production facilities.

This means that for the most part, those automatic cuts come from the guts of the Pentagon.