Response to letter: de Rugy defends research

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Dr. Veronique de Rugy stands by the integrity of her research. (Response to this Letter to the Editor.)

A senior research fellow at the George Mason University Mercatus Center in Arlington, she has testified many times before Congress, writes columns for Reason magazine and the Washington Examiner and blogs on the National Review Online.

The information in her graph and in de Rugy’s comments in the story are based on National Defense spending, not the Department of Defense budget.  National Defense spending includes military-related spending by other federal agencies in addition to the Department of Defense, but DoD spending makes up the vast majority of the total.

The story in Virginia Business failed to make the distinction between National Defense spending and DoD spending clear in discussing de Rugy’s analysis.

Using Congressional Budget Office data, she shows National Defense spending under sequestration dropping to $493 billion in 2013 and then rising to $590 billion in 2021. These numbers are $23 billion to $27 billion higher than “nominal” (not adjusted for inflation) DoD spending shown on the fourth line of the chart on this page because of spending by other agencies. The Federal Times cites similar spending estimates by the Bipartisan Policy Center in a September story, “Sequestration might be manageable, experts say.” 

The CQ Weekly story mentioned in the letter looked at options that can be used “to wield the sequester as a scalpel rather than an ax.” In the article, members of Congress and former budget officials discuss how money could be shifted so low-priority programs would be cut deeper than high-priority projects.

The war funding or Overseas Contingency Operations budget is separate from the primary Defense budget.  It is not subject to the initial round of budget cuts caused by the Budget Control Act but is subject to sequestration that would take place next year unless stopped by Congress.

The article quotes Florida Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young, chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee as saying, “The OCO number has been very flexible, and it has been used almost as a slush fund for a number of other projects.” Some Washington insiders believe Congress still could increase war funding by labeling it a national emergency.

Original story: http://www.virginiabusiness.com/index.php/news/article/peering-over-the-fiscal-cliff/

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