Defense Spending Excluding War Funding
This chart by Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Veronique de Rugy looks at the impact of sequester cuts on defense spending. Clarifying these figures reveals that sequester cuts do not warrant the fears connected to the failure of the Joint Select Committee to agree on $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction.
Defense budget authorities from 2003 through 2021 are compared using data from the Office of Management and Budget, Department of Defense, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) August 2011 Budget and Economic Outlook, and the Budget Control Act of 2011.
The budget authorities projected below (yellow and red lines) exclude past and future funding for military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere. The yellow line represents projected national defense budget authority without sequester cuts, and the red line represents this metric incorporating the sequester cuts. Leaving inflation aside, military spending will grow by about 10 percent as opposed to the 18 percent without the cuts. Adjusting for inflation, sequester cuts would bring the military’s purchasing power to 2007 levels—a year when no one was complaining of devastatingly low levels of spending.
Note that this chart shows defense budget authority, or departments’ and agencies’ legal authority to spend. This metric is distinct from budget outlays, which represent actual spending amounts. Importantly, if history is any indication, national defense outlays will be higher (in budgets both with and without sequester cuts) than the budget authorities represented in this chart. According to the CBO, total defense outlay