A Glimmer of Fiscal Discipline
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 12:09 AM EDT
Yesterday delivered a small piece of good news on the budget front. As reported by the Washington Post:
As I noted in a recent post, President Obama deserves kudos for threatening to veto any appropriations bill that would include extra funding for the F-22. And the Senate deserves credit for agreeing. The House wasnâ€™t as frugal, including $369 million in initial funding for additional fighters in its version of the appropriations bill. So the next test will be to see what emerges from the House-Senate conference on the bill.
The amounts of money are, of course, small relative to todayâ€™s trillion-dollar deficits. But perhaps they are a first step toward some semblance of fiscal discipline. Budget hawks are rightly concerned about the growth of spending on the major entitlement programs â€” Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security â€” but defense spending should also get close scrutiny. With annual appropriations reaching almost $700 billion, reductions in defense spending will almost certainly be part of any effort to put our fiscal house back in order (barring major new hostilities).
P.S. Back in 2006, I testified before Congress about some of the budget gimmicks that the Air Force was then trying to use to get funding for more F-22s. One trick was to try to get a small amount of initial funding for planes in one year, so that in later years it could go back and say â€œwell, we already started these planes, so you have to give us $x billion to finish them.â€ Sounds like the folks in the House were considering something similar.
Disclosure: I have no investments in any aerospace company.
This article originally appeared on Donald Marron.