Is Biden really cutting the defense budget?
blocked a bipartisan deal to provide $10 billion in pandemic funding to the Senate as they push for a vote to stop the Biden administration from reversing a Trump-era Covid-related immigration policy. The delay means coronavirus funding may not be able to pass until lawmakers return from a two-week break starting next week. To make the deal sooner, they would need all 100 senators to agree.
Here’s what else is going on:
Biden signs patch for Obamacare ‘Family Glitch’
President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed an executive order that would expand coverage under the Affordable Care Act by allowing the cost of family health insurance to be used as a benchmark to determine who qualifies for subsidies.
White House officials said that as a result of the change, about 200,000 people would get new coverage and nearly a million would see their premiums cut.
Under existing rules, the so-called family issue in the ACA requires that the cost of health insurance for a single person be used when determining the level of federal subsidies available to those seeking coverage. If the cost of insurance available through employment for one person is less than 10% of household income, then it is considered reasonable and no subsidy for plans through federal scholarships is available – even if the cost of private health insurance for an entire family is much higher, as is usually the case. Biden’s executive order changes the rules to allow the cost of family insurance to be used as a deciding factor for those seeking such coverage.
Obama visits: Former President Barack Obama visited the White House for the signing ceremony and paid tribute to Biden’s efforts to keep the ACA alive as it turns 12, while reminding fellow Democrats the imperfect nature of political compromise. “The reason we’re here today is that President Biden, Vice President Harris, everyone who worked on this project understood from the start that the ACA wasn’t perfect,” Obama said. . “To get the bill passed, we had to compromise. We didn’t get everything we wanted. That was no reason not to.
During the ceremony, Biden playfully referred to the comment he made in 2010 when Obama signed into law the ACA: “It’s a big
[expletive] OK,” he whispered to Obama in a remark that was not intended for public consumption but was broadcast for all to hear. Before signing the bill on Tuesday, Biden jokingly warned Obama, “Let me remind you, this is a hot mic.”
More favorable views: The ACA – derisively called Obamacare in its early days, a name the former president adopted, neutralizing much of the sting – was controversial from the moment it was passed, with a majority of voters disapproving of it for much of it. of Obama’s two terms. in the office. Republicans have made a lot of noise to repeal the law, but those efforts have failed and discussions of repeal have remained silent, at least for the time being. And the law itself has risen in public opinion over time.
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 55% of respondents had a favorable opinion of the ACA, while 42% had an unfavorable opinion. Like Emily Gruskin of the Washington Post
writing“the law grew in popularity during the 2016 presidential election, and Americans’ views of the ACA turned sharply positive as President Donald Trump and Republicans tried to repeal it, and since then, they continued to climb.As of last October, a record 58% of Americans favored the ACA and 41% opposed.
Congress braces for top Biden again on defense budget
The White House last week called for a defense budget for fiscal year 2023 that would be the largest in history, at least in nominal terms. This request, as
Politico’s Connor O’Brien reportsposes a dilemma for Biden’s fellow Democrats: whether to “support President Joe Biden’s historically large Pentagon budget or spend even more.”
Many Democrats had hoped — or still hope — to cut defense spending once Biden takes office. O’Brien explains that circumstances dashed those hopes. “[T]he new reality, spurred by high inflation and a raging ground war in Europe, means Democrats are considering for the second year in a row to push back their own president and add tens of billions of dollars to the Department of Justice’s budget. Defense that the agency didn’t ask,” he wrote.
Biden has requested $813.3 billion in national defense spending, including $773 billion for the Pentagon. The overall total would represent an increase of $31.2 billion, or 4%, over 2022 levels.
Yet even before Biden released his budget request, Republicans were already pushing for more, with top GOP lawmakers pushing for a 5% increase above the rate of inflation. “Biden’s budget is once again shrinking the size of our military in the midst of a national security crisis,” deceptively complained Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the third House Republican.
declaration released Monday by House Armed Services Republicans.
Most other Republican complaints about Biden’s defense budget have been more careful to clarify that it’s only a cut in inflation-adjusted terms.
Philip Bump of the Washington Post Tuesday provided a useful visualization of how inflation affects the picture of the defense budget.
Here is defense spending since 1940 in nominal terms:
And here are the same inflation-adjusted expenses, using 2021 dollars and estimates of full-year inflation rates for this year and next.
at the end of last monthpartly depending on
a report from McKinsey & Company that showed how different inflation rates would affect this pool of budgeted money,” Bump reports. “If Biden’s budget increases spending less than inflation, then the military can buy less than it could in previous years.”
Some Democrats appear ready to follow GOP pressure for a bigger raise. “At this point I think we need a real 5% increase in the budget and I think our ultimate goal should be to get to 5% of GDP, or [approximately] $1 trillion,” Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), a member of the Armed Services Committee, told Politico. “That’s what it will take to modernize the nuclear enterprise…and seriously invest in our shipbuilding and be serious about deterring Chinese aggression against Taiwan.”
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-TN), chairman of the House Budget Committee, tells Politico the war in Ukraine means there will be less resistance among Democrats this year to increased defense spending. – although there may still be some pushback on delivering the Pentagon more money than it was asking for. “I don’t think anyone wants to go any higher,” Yarmuth said.
The bottom line: Given the war in Ukraine, high inflation, and the massive sway Republicans will have over the budget process in a tightly divided Congress, lawmakers seem poised to once again deliver a larger defense budget increase. important than that requested by Biden.
quote of the day
“My advice would be to make permanent bases but not to park permanently [U.S. forces], so you get the effect of permanence by rotational forces running through permanent bases. I think a lot of our European allies, especially those like the Baltics or Poland and Romania, and elsewhere — they’re very, very willing to establish permanent bases. They will build them, they will pay for them.
– Army General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
bear witness ahead of Congress on Tuesday on the Biden administration’s 2023 budget request. Milley said rotating US troops to bases in Eastern Europe would help deter Russian aggression, but at a lower cost than permanent bases by avoiding the expense of providing long-term housing, schools and other services to members of the United States military and their families.