On February 14, the White House released the Obama Administration’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2012, which begins on October 1, 2011. As expected, the estimated $3.7 trillion FY2012 request contains a number of critical policy and fiscal goals, including:
“Non-Security” Discretionary Spending
The Administration proposes saving $400 billion over the next decade by freezing “non-security” discretionary spending. To achieve this, many federal programs with a direct impact on the states are facing significant cuts:
What About Defense?
Meanwhile, defense spending, which accounts for roughly 58 percent of discretionary spending and 20 percent of total federal spending (both based on FY 2011 estimates), will continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace than in recent years.
The Administration proposes funding reductions of $78 billion over the next five years within the Department of Defense. The $553 billion base-line Department of Defense request is approximately 3% higher than current funding levels. This figure does not include funding for nuclear weapons or $117.6 billion for the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Over the next five years, real growth at the Pentagon will gradually shrink but, unlike some programs within non-security discretionary spending, it is projected to keep pace with inflation.
“Defense” Spending vs. “Security” Spending
Historically, the discretionary spending discussion has been framed as defense v. non-defense. This year, it is a discussion about security v. non-security. Security spending is a much broader category which includes defense spending, funding for homeland security ($44 billion in the FY2011 request) and veterans benefits ($57 billion in the FY2011 request).
By way of example, the chart below shows defense spending as 58% of all requested FY2011 discretionary spending (left bar) and security spending as 66% of the total (right bar).
This means that the projected freeze and subsequent savings on non-security discretionary spending in FY2012 will have to be absorbed by an even smaller percentage of the overall discretionary budget.
New NPP Releases on the Horizon
As part of NPP’s annual analysis of the President’s proposed budget, we will begin releasing detailed materials by February 18th. We will also be updating our web-based materials to reflect the newly released figures.
NPP’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget analysis will include:
Jo Comerford is the Executive Director of the National Priorities Project. The National Priorities Project (NPP) makes complex federal budget information transparent and accessible so people can prioritize and influence how their tax dollars are spent.