For Love or Money
On Monday, the President delivered his Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2013. While a budget might not seem like a very romantic Valentine’s Day gift, it is in fact a special kind of national love letter describing our national hopes, values and priorities. As we interpret the numbers, we see that the Administration delivered some heartbreaking budget cuts to programs that we love. And when it comes to military spending – nuclear weapons in particular – the United States is casting more dollars for a Cold War era love affair that it is just time to get over.
First, some overall numbers:
The Federal budget Request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 is $3.67 trillion. (We will spend $3.8 trillion - including money authorized in FY 2012.)
$2.27 trillion (about 62%) goes to mandatory spending – including earned-benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare.
$1.15 trillion (about 31%) goes to discretionary spending. This is the part of the budget that Congress debates and votes on each year. There are a whole variety of competing program priorities in the discretionary budget with everything from spending on transportation, energy and environment, education, foreign affairs, military spending and more.
The deficit is projected to be $901 Billion.
Within the discretionary budget, about $639 billion, or 56 % goes to military spending.
Included in military spending is: the Department of Defense base budget of $ 525.4 billion, War Spending of $88.5 billion, Nuclear Weapons and related spending about $18 billion and the FBI and other defense related activities is another $7.2 billion.
Who pays the austerity price? With the fiscal crisis, we all knew that there would be pressure to make spending cuts in this budget.
This year the Department of Defense did break its decade of phenomenal budget growth with a modest 1% reduction in the coming year. The Pentagon is starting to tighten its belt – by reducing its planned rate of growth over the coming decade. It’s a good start, but we think deeper reductions are needed to create a sustainable budget geared to national security needs of this century. See our latest blog post titled “Helping the Pentagon to Fitness” for more information.
Spending on wars is also down for 2013, dropping from $115 billion to $88.5 billion. With the Iraq war ended and the announcement that withdrawal of combat troops, we think that this budget could come down more. We note that the President proclaimed in his State of the Union Speech that we should, “Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.” We agree with the sentiment, but we need to make deeper cuts to war spending in order to do this.
- Please take action to urge accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Not all military spending went down though. When it comes to nuclear weapons, our love affair with Cold War is alive and well. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) weapons activities account that funds nuclear weapons complex production rose by 5% compared to 2012. At the same time, the NNSA program to dismantle nuclear weapons dropped by 9.4%. Dismantlement continues at a ponderously slow rate, leaving hundreds of nuclear weapons waiting for decades to be dismantled. The NNSA also cut back on some of the most crucial nuclear nonproliferation programs helping to secure nuclear materials and prevent nuclear terrorism. Instead a large portion of funds dedicated to nuclear nonproliferation are being spent on a dangerous expensive plutonium fuel program.
- The President is now preparing guidance shaping U.S. nuclear policy. Sign our petition telling the President to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons.
- Then tell Congress to the cut nuclear weapons budget with the SANE Act (Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures).
In contrast to military spending, other overall discretionary spending shrinks more – by about 5%. Here are a few illustrative examples of heartbreaking cuts in discretionary spending. (Note the impact that these cuts will have on state budgets.)
- Cut by 48 % ($329 million) Community Service Block Grants providing grants to States, territories, and Indian Tribes for programs that provide services and activities to reduce poverty. Domestic violence shelters are often funded by under this program.
- Cut by 15 % ($359 million) the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) CleanWater and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs), which provide capitalization grants to States for their own water infrastructure revolving funds. States provide a 20 percent match and, then, make loans to municipalities for water infrastructure projects, with repayments returned to their revolving fund, allowing them to finance additional projects.
- Cut by 13% ($452 million) Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help struggling families make ends meet by offsetting some of their home heating and cooling costs.
Are these the places in the budget you would have cut first? If not, it’s time to speak up. Stay tuned as WAND provides more information and analysis of the budget (our famous pie charts are coming soon!)
- Please join us on February 28 for a special Webinar with expert budget analysis from the National Priorities Project’s Chris Hellman.