In its 2013 budget proposal, the Pentagon has underestimated how much its five-year spending plan will cost by $123 billion, or 4.7 percent, according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report.
To reach its conclusions, CBO assumed Congress would undo many of the Pentagon’s budget-cutting proposals.
“CBO’s analysis makes clear that if Congress blocks proposals to achieve cost savings contained in the department’s 2013 budget, particularly efforts to address skyrocketing personnel costs, we will risk violating the strict spending caps that Congress itself imposed on the department in the Budget Control Act,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said at a July 12 briefing.
CBO assumed Congress would reject the Pentagon’s plans to increase military healthcare fees and would increase soldiers’ pay above levels proposed by DoD. It also assumed DoD would not be able to curb acquisition cost growth.
If automatic defense cuts are triggered in January through sequestration, as mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, DoD’s budget authority would be reduced by about $52 billion each year.
“Even with that cut, however, DoD’s base budget in 2013 would still be larger than it was in 2006 (in 2013 dollars) and larger than the average base budget during the 1980s,” CBO said.
CBO’s conclusion “is generally no different than the prior years’ reports, though the gap is a bit higher based on differences in personnel assumptions,” according Byron Callan, a financial analyst with Capital Alpha Partners in Washington.