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For the Media

Sen. Reid’s Trillion Dollar Defense Cut Is Not Real

WHO:     Dr. Gordon Adams, a professor of U.S. Foreign Policy at American University’s School of International Service, is a former associate director for national security and international affairs at the Office of Management and Budget (1993-1997).  Adams has published widely on defense and national security policy, the defense policy process, and national security budgets.

WHAT:       Available for television, print, and radio interviews                       

WHEN:      July 26 – ongoing

WHERE:     In-studio, at American University or via telephone.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 26, 2011) Dr. Gordon Adams, professor of U.S. Foreign Policy at American University’s School of International Service, says the trillion dollars in defense savings claimed in the latest deficit reduction proposal from Sen. Harry Reid is completely fictional. “ A trillion in ‘savings’ from phasing out the wars over the next decade is not real; these are calculated from a CBO baseline of war funding that extrapolates the FY 2011 war appropriation of $159 billion through the next decade, growing it with inflation.   The Administration has used an equally unreal number for war costs - $50 billion a year starting next year over the next ten years, in no way driven by policy or program.”

Adams reveals the accounting gimmick’ s rub, “This is the worst kind of phony budgeting and phony savings.  It will do little to deal with the deficit; it is just a numbers game.  It is budget-cutting on the cheap that in no way deals with the underlying growth and need for discipline in defense spending.”  Adams recently gave testimony before the House Budget Committee on how to really cut nearly a trillion from actual defense spending ranging from force structure reductions, eliminating unneeded hardware, and infrastructure savings.

War savings are not predictable, and the high estimate from Sen. Reid is not the first time this fictional number has entered the debate. “I am struck that the same phony savings were claimed by Rep. Ryan in his budget resolution earlier this year.  They are now apparently being scooped up by Senate Majority Leader Reid in his plan,” says Adams.  “In the real world, nobody knows what war costs will be – they will come when they come and, if and when they do, future Congress’ will provide the funding, through emergency supplemental or war titles, with no regard to the impact on the deficit.  We need to start now planning real savings in real defense spending, not relying on budget gimmicks to estimate phony savings.”

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