Can the Government Commission National Security and Budgetary Reform?

Jordan Tama. Budget Insight, 01 December 2009.

Excerpt:

In particular, the [QDR Independent] panel was created at the behest of leaders of the congressional armed services committees with the goal of providing a counterweight to the QDR, which is run entirely by the Defense Department. The independent panel’s legislative mandate is to “conduct an assessment of the assumptions, strategy, findings, and risks in the report of the Secretary of Defense on the 2009 QDR, with particular attention paid to the risks described in that report.”

This focus on risks reveals the principal motivation of the armed services committees in establishing the panel: to highlight the dangers of reducing or stabilizing the defense budget. Pentagon officials have said that, for initial planning purposes, the QDR should assume that the base defense budget will be essentially flat for the next five years, when accounting for inflation. Given that budgetary framework, the QDR will probably propose cuts to major defense programs. Many members of the armed services committees—regardless of party affiliation—are likely to oppose some of these proposed cuts. The committees’ hope is that the independent panel will bolster opposition to such cuts by calling them risky.

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