(Politico) – The great Achilles’ heel in the House Republican budget Tuesday can be found in a blue-and-white chart, tucked away on Page 40 and mapping out a 10-year path for the annual appropriations bills that keep the government operating.
On the surface, it appears to keep faith with the spirit of the discretionary spending caps under the 2011 Budget Control Act, a major priority for many fiscal conservatives. But to get the votes of party defense hawks, the budget makes a sweeping end run around the caps by declaring an additional $94 billion as emergency spending for the war against terrorism.
As a practical matter, the GOP is adding $36 billion to President Barack Obama’s $58 billion 2016 request of emergency funds for Overseas Contingency Operations to pay not just for war costs but also for foreign aid. That’s a huge increase that Senate Republicans will not endorse in their budget plan. And it strains credibility given what the same House chart shows for the outyears.
Indeed, in fiscal 2017, the $94 billion in overseas contingency funds drops precipitously to $27 billion, suggesting the global threats in 2016 will suddenly have dissipated. And a second old budget strategy kicks into place: paying for defense by cutting still more from domestic appropriations.