Proposed Abuse of War Spending Account Is an Egregious Gimmick

Mar 6, 2019

Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought recently suggested that the President‘s budget will evade next year’s discretionary spending caps by classifying a larger share of defense spending as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds – a designation meant for war spending that is exempt from the budget caps. President Trump is reportedly considering a total defense budget of $750 billion, which would mean a $106 billion increase in defense OCO funding.

The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

Just a year ago, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 set in motion a massive unpaid-for defense and non-defense spending increase. Now, the White House wants to extend and expand those defense increases but rely on a budget gimmick to bury the costs.

Budget gimmicks are unfortunately nothing new, but an attempt to increase regular spending by such a large amount should be considered unacceptable by any standard.

You cannot claim fiscal concern with one hand while using the other to sweep a hundred billion dollars under the rug. 

Nor can we afford a repeat of last year’s bipartisan spending bonanza. Extending current cap increases without offsets could add $2 trillion to the debt over the next decade.

After years of debt-financed tax cuts and spending, it is time to stop the irresponsibility. Policymakers should not rely on hidden spending to pad the defense budget, nor repeat the unprecedented cap increases enacted in last year’s Bipartisan Budget Act.

Instead, Democrats and Republicans should come together to agree on a budget plan with reasonable and affordable spending levels that are both fully accounted for and fully offset.

Read more on a responsible discretionary path here: http://www.crfb.org/papers/charting-responsible-path-discretionary-spending

Read more about the OCO gimmick and how to prevent it here: http://www.crfb.org/sites/default/files/Playing_by_the_Budget_Rules.pdf#page24

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For more information contact Patrick Newton, press secretary, at newton@crfb.org.