by John Glaser
April 11, 2013

In case you’ve been asleep for the whole of Barack Obama’s first term, here’s one fundamental doctrine that has proven itself to guide his administration: if the President does it, it’s not illegal.

Mostly that has been true in the realm of secret war, indefinite detentions, spying and abridgments of Americans’ free speech rights. But this week he carried that torch in budgetary terms.

The President submitted his budget proposal on Wednesday. The military budget he is requesting – totaling out at $640.5 billion – “ignore[s] the budgetary cap set by law,” writes Ben Friedman at The Cato Institute, and marks “a substantial increase over the $493 billion that the Pentagon actually got from Congress this year, after sequestration.”

He’s referring to sequestration. Ya know, that legally binding piece of legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President? Yeah, Obama is ignoring that, despite the fact that it is law.

“The $552 billion requested in 2014 for non-war ‘national defense’ spending exceeds by $55 billion the spending cap set by the 2011 Budget Control Act, as amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012,” Friedman writes.

Instead of acknowledging the statutory requirements, writes Gordan Adams at Foreign Policy, this “budget assumes that the Army and Marines will stay on the path to the 490,000 and 182,000 troops already projected and the large ‘back office’ can stay in place — the 560,000 active duty forces who do not deploy, but are the ‘overhead drag’ on defense efficiency.”

The big controversy in recent months over supposed “deep” cuts to the defense budget that would boost unemployment and harm national security was a lot of hot air, much of it fanned by the ever impartial military-industrial complex. In truth, the harshest sequestration cuts were merely reductions in the rate of growth of defense spending. And after an inordinate binge for a decade after 9/11, this was miniscule.

So why has the administration simply ignored the legally mandated cuts? Why have they so brazenly defied the rules?

Both Adams and Friedman think its politics. What else?

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