But it also would increase the military’s base budget for four of the next five years. Savings come from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pentagon released a budget blueprint Thursday that cuts projected military spending by nearly half a trillion dollars, yet still calls for increasing the base defense budget in all but one of the next five years.

The proposal meets both goals because spending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is dropping sharply, allowing the base budget — the annual cost of paying troops and buying planes, ships and tanks — to increase modestly, even while complying with last year’s bipartisan deal in Congress to reduce the deficit.

For President Obama, the apparent paradox of being able to cut and raise defense spending at the same time is potentially a political boon in his reelection bid.

To Democrats who believe the Pentagon is bloated and should do more to help reduce the national deficit, he can say that his budget would do so. To Republicans who say defense cuts will leave the country vulnerable, he can say he would be spending more every year except in 2013 — and holding the line against further reductions.

Continue reading →