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Old 07-27-2019, 04:26 PM
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Supreme Court allows military spending to be used for border wall: blueprint for future?


Supreme Court just ruled (by a 5-4 vote, unsurprisingly,) that the Trump administration can use $2.5 billion in military spending for the purpose of building a border wall.

Now, all politics of the border wall itself aside, is this a potential blueprint for the remainder of the Trump presidency? Trump could shoehorn all of the border-wall expenses into the military budget (give the Pentagon its customary $700 billion a year, but now wedge in an extra $10-20 billion annually for the border wall as a rider.)

The main reason for this would be that the defense budget (NDAA) usually passes both houses of Congress with ease; usually a near-unanimous vote in both houses. Of course, if Trump were to try to force in border-wall spending this way, you would see immediate tough resistance from Democrats, but most likely still not enough to prevent the defense budget from passing Congress. The Republicans would still hold a Senate majority, and there are probably still enough Democrats in the House who would cave in (it's the defense budget, after all) to allow it to pass the House.
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Old 07-27-2019, 05:42 PM
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yeah, but I wonder what's gonna happen when a dem president tries the same thing

say he wants to restore past SNAP/EBT cuts and congress says "no money" so he uses the same blueprint.....


i think they shortsightedly opened a can of worms that we haven't seen all of the implications yet
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Old 07-27-2019, 05:46 PM
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Yup, bad move all around that opens the door to future abuse by both sides.

But I wouldn't expect anything less short-sighted by today's Republicans.
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Old 07-28-2019, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Chimera View Post
Yup, bad move all around that opens the door to future abuse by both sides.

But I wouldn't expect anything less short-sighted by today's Republicans.
All they have to do is to make sure that political dissidents are not allowed to vote, and there is no problem there.
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Old 07-27-2019, 06:15 PM
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I can't find a cite but I'm pretty sure that IOKIARDI.
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Old 07-27-2019, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Velocity View Post
Supreme Court just ruled (by a 5-4 vote, unsurprisingly,) that the Trump administration can use $2.5 billion in military spending for the purpose of building a border wall.

Now, all politics of the border wall itself aside, is this a potential blueprint for the remainder of the Trump presidency? Trump could shoehorn all of the border-wall expenses into the military budget (give the Pentagon its customary $700 billion a year, but now wedge in an extra $10-20 billion annually for the border wall as a rider.)
You might want to read your cite more carefully. SCOTUS lifted the injuction allowing spending to begin while the court of appeals makes it's final determination on the case. This strongly hints at but is not a final result.

Also in the article:
Quote:
The five-member majority said in a brief order that the challengers appear to "have no cause of action" to review the Defense Department's authority to move up to $4 billion between accounts.
They can't redirect $10-20 billion annually under this limited decision.

Quote:
The main reason for this would be that the defense budget (NDAA) usually passes both houses of Congress with ease; usually a near-unanimous vote in both houses.
It passes with ease only after it gets out of committee and the deal is already negotiated. The House did try to legislate lots of restrictions into the NDAA for FY20. The Senate kept those limits out of what both sides eventually agreed to for the next two years budgeting as part of lifting the debt ceiling and BCA spending limits. It's important to remember that the agreement also covered FY21. It's also important to remember that with the filibuster and current margins the Senate process essentially requires bipartisan solutions. No appropriations bill is going to come to a final vote that doesn't have a decent chunk of Democratic support. The Constitutional power of the purse is technicallly with the House. The Senate dominates when the majority is less than 60 strong on must pass appropriations.

Senators on the Armed Services Committee are also going to be fully aware of last years findings of the non-partisan National Defense Strategy Commission.
Quote:
The security and wellbeing of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades. America’s military superiority—the hard-power backbone of its global influence and national security—has eroded to a dangerous degree.... America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt.
If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting.
Quote:
The convergence of these trends has created a crisis of national security
for the United States—what some leading voices in the U.S. national security community have termed an emergency.
The Senate is where support for the wall has been most tepid. Trump didn't get what he wanted for wall funding in three straight budgets (FY17-19). Republicans were willing to shrug off small diversions of DOD funding with their opponents taking the lead on the court challenge. It mollified Trump and avoided another government shutdown. Big diversions are different for those genuinely worried about the "crisis of national security." Without Senate Democrats being willing to knowingly pad the budget in other areas to build the wall out of DOD funds that's going to be an issue for GOP support going forward.

I think you are wildly overestimating the ability to get significant wall money hidden in DODs budget.
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Old 07-28-2019, 11:46 AM
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I think you are wildly overestimating the ability to get significant wall money hidden in DODs budget.
I hope you're right about this. I've almost been entirely off my "diet" of politics news lately after hearing about this. It really feels like "he" is always going to get his way about every issue winding its way through the courts, at least in a few months if not right away, as with the Muslim ban.
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Old 07-28-2019, 12:54 PM
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It might be interesting to know what areas of the defense budget that money is coming out of. And what would people's reaction be if an adversary nation could somehow enforce those exact same cuts on us.
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Old 07-28-2019, 01:01 PM
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In what sense is a budget that matches the rest of the world combined inadequate or "an emergency"?
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Old 07-28-2019, 08:29 PM
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In what sense is a budget that matches the rest of the world combined inadequate or "an emergency"?
It might be worth reading the entire report...or at least the executive summary. It was year long non-partisan study that had access to both classified and unclassified data. Along with US government officials they took testimony from outside security experts and our allies.

There's some real issues with the simplistic comparison of monetary exchange rate (MER) spending:
- There's debate about what the numbers really are for comparisons to begin with. More authoritarian countries, especially ones with government owned industries, have the ability to hide spending to a certain degree.
- The US has high median and per capita incomes. Hiring both uniformed and civilian members of DOD in that labor market is going to be more costly. We typically spend 25+% of our military budget on uniformed personnel costs. From NATO estimates of US defense spending on personnel costs (including uniformed, civilian, and retirement costs) is 39.28% in 2018 and 38.62% in 2019. Russia has mostly transitioned to a volunteer military introducing market pressure on wages for most of their force. China still gets savings because of a slower transition from conscription to a professional force. Iran and North Korea get a big cost savings on personnel costs thanks to conscription. The effects of that labor cost get rolled up in my next point. It's useful to point out separately how much of our military budget actually goes to personnel rather than tanks, ships, and planes or training to use them.
- It's problematic to simply use PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) but it's probably closer to accurate for a comparison. Here's a simplistic analysis at PPP. A more professional look by a Professor of Economic, with cites from supporting research, is here. I can't find it now but I've read an analysis that gives China a significant purchasing power advantage over even the PPP multiplier.

There are issues with simply looking at top line spending as well. We're coming off a period of significant budget uncertainty. Shutdowns and funding by continuing resolution produces uncertainty and financial famine then feast cycles. That makes spending on R&D and long term procurement difficult and inefficient. There was also significant top line uncertainty year to year caused by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Quote:
...due to political dysfunction and decisions made by both major political parties—and particularly due to the effects of the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 and years of failing to enact timely appropriations—America has significantly weakened its own defense.
Comparisons of MER exchange rate also don't look at capabilities. There's hidden assumptions in the MER argument that are at best questionable. One is addressed by the PPP comparison. A dollar in the US simply doesn't purchase the same capability as a dollars worth of spending in Russia or China. Another big assumption is that we don't need more expensive capabilities to fulfill our interests. To the extend that we want to continue to maintain the major framework of foreign policy pursued by both parties since World War II, that's a bad assumption. If we want to protect our partners and allies from coercion, if not outright attack, we have to be prepared for away fights. In major power competition that can mean fighting just to get access to where we want to operate. Those are expensive capabilities. China and Russia have both emphasized improvements in air defense and anti-shipping capabilities, with greater maximum ranges, in the last decade. They are working to make that power projection we simply take for granted more difficult. Another hidden assumption is that our spending is enough to maintain our traditional military advantages. Part of the post WWII structure has been spending enough to make sure we have a strong qualitative advantage. That advantage helps avoid even more expensive major power wars because of its deterrence effect. It costs more to develop, procure, and train on those state of the art systems rather than simply use mature technology. Our quality advantages have degraded significantly in a number of areas in the last decade. It's going to cost us even more to restore it than if we'd maintained it.

I know that MER spending comparison is an old notion. It's worth the couple of minutes to at least read the commission's executive summary.

Last edited by DinoR; 07-28-2019 at 08:30 PM.
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