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Wilson: End of Sequestration, Increased Defense Spending Coming Soon

The turret for the first M1A1 SA/ED variant built at Anniston Army Depot goes through the final stages of testing. US Army Photo

The tide is turning in favor of increased defense spending and ending sequestration, the chairman of the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee told attendees at an American Enterprise Institute forum on Thursday.

Rep. Joe Wilson, (R-S.C.), said at the Washington, D.C., think tank the combined leadership of the chairmen of the two armed services committee, Defense Secretary James Mattis and President Donald Trump will succeed in raising Pentagon spending to $640 billion in Fiscal Year 2018.

The president, “has the commitment to the promises he made” during the campaign, and increased defense spending was one of his priorities. “The downward slide will be reversed.” Wilson cited the “existential” threat posed by Russia with its modernized forces, its seizure of Crimea and meddling in Ukraine and China’s “developing bases on what had been rock formations” as key reasons to raise the defense budget.

Sequestration “was intended to be catastrophic” and wasn’t intended to be enacted, Wilson said. But the cuts were put in place under the Budget Control Act of 2011.

“Just the word ‘sequestration’ has been so confusing to the public,” who want to see overall government spending come down. Wilson said many “did not know that 50 percent [of the cuts] came from one department, defense.”

Wilson said having newer members of Congress with military experience helps in explaining the need for more defense spending and the impact budget caps has on national security to other members and the public.

“Hope springs eternal; we are not going to give up” in ending sequestration.

To pay for the rise in defense spending, Wilson said there needs to be entitlement reform. He said he also favors a balanced budget requirement for the federal government, as many states have in their constitutions.

Wilson said it was important for Vice President Mike Pence to say “Article 5 means Article 5” in the NATO alliance, referring to a section of the treaty that an attack on one is an attack on all. He said the European Reassurance Initiative, which includes sending more American armored forces to the continent, is a “really clear demonstration of peace through strength.”

At the same time, Wilson, who was at the recent European security meeting in Munich, said the allies need to understand that spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense was in their own best interest. “It’s amazing to me that Greece has made it [to the 2 percent threshold], but Germany has not.”

Five of the 28 NATO members spend two percent or more of GDP on national security. Wilson said he was encouraged by Sweden and Finland — who are not members of the alliance — have stepped up their defense spending.

  • BudgetGeek

    Combining the entire Democratic half of Congress who believe in domestic-defense parity, and the deficit-hawks in the Republican half of Congress creates an insurmountable obstacle to a significant shift of spending from domestic uses to defense. They put the caps in place and reaffirmed them twice in the Bipartisan Budget Acts. I estimate the probability that Rep. Wilson is correct and that Trump gets his $54 billion at less than 20%. I hope those working POM-19 have an alternative plan.

    • vincedc

      First of all, I live in South Carolina….I’ve learned to take anything Joe Wilson says with a pillar of salt. Second, Congress has not passed a budget in many many years. There is no reason to believe that magically it is going to happen this year.

      • BudgetGeek

        Nonsense. Congress passed a budget resolution on January 13th of this year. While that is the first budget resolution in a few years, the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the Bipartisan Budget Acts of 2013 and 2015 filled the role of a budget resolution. But that step isn’t even necessary and has only existed since the mid-70s. The critical thing is whether they pass appropriations.

        • vincedc

          I never realized the difference thanks.

    • Lazarus

      Fully agree. BCA caps aren’t going away anytime soon.

  • vincedc

    c.

  • Jakob Sellberg

    Well I live in Sweden and can say that the last bit is false. Within the next years our military spending will actually fall beneath 1% of GDP if nothing is done.

    Everyone in politics is in absolute agreement that military spending should rise, yet it is still only the populist party that is willing to do so.

    It is just sad. And to think that we were one of the strong holds in Europe just a few decades ago…

  • John B. Morgen

    The increase of spending is fine and good, but what exactly will we be getting; I do expect prudent spending for the military will be in the forefront of policy making. For example, I expect continue funding for A-10 operations against ISIS, if not a reopen the A-10 production line—if possible. Or a restart of building non-nuclear powered submarines, and more M-1 Abrams panzers, etc. Maybe start building smaller aircraft carriers that costs less than the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class aircraft carriers. Maybe the cancellation of the LCS program, and transferring those cancel program funds to the USS Arleign Burke (DDG-51) program.. The question should be; and that is, how prudent of this new administration is going to be during the next four years…..

  • Donald Carey

    So Greece is spendine 2% of its GDP on defense? Like Italy, so much of their economy is underground that 2% of an under-reported number means nothing. Besides, 2% of not much = almost nothing.

  • old guy

    In examining the impact of the sequestration I have found that the main result was beneficial. It caused a much needed examination of priorities and waste. The impact on readiness was minimal, despite much hullabaloo.