May 2018 Mackenzie Eaglen
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- The $700 billion in enacted defense spending for 2018 is a substantive increase over 2017 enacted and 2018 requested spending. However, the $716 billion topline for 2019 just keeps pace with inflation.
- The administration’s first five-year budget, the Future Years Defense Program, suggests the overall fiscal outlook for defense spending will flatline in 2020 and beyond.
- The president’s 2019 budget allocates 87 percent of new funding above last year’s appropriations to military personnel and operations and maintenance, with most of the remainder going toward research and development.
- For the second year in a row, the Trump administration’s budget request underfunds procurement in favor of pursuing a capability-centric modernization program, imperiling the future health of the force by underresourcing capacity and the recapitalization of legacy systems.
- The three-year streak of defense increases was driven largely by Congress. Policymakers should work to ensure a balanced portfolio of investment to match the defense strategy.
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