The Looming Fight Over Spending on Defense and Ukraine
Author: Greg Valliere
March 14, 2023
RON DeSANTIS RAISED THE TEMPERATURE YESTERDAY with a strongly worded statement that the war in Ukraine is a “territorial dispute,” a conflict that is not in America’s best interests. That places him roughly in the same lane as Donald Trump on the war; both of them know that only about half of all Americans support getting more involved, according to new polls.
THIS ALARMS MANY REPUBLICANS, who say Trump and DeSantis are members of the GOP’s “surrender caucus.” This growing group of dissenters wants to focus on domestic issues such as crime, illegal immigration and deficits.
THE BUDGET DEFICIT has become a rallying cry for the GOP base, which opposes any budget deal this year that doesn’t contain spending cuts — which means defense outlays are on the table.
THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PROPOSED A PENTAGON spending bill yesterday for fiscal 2024 that would spend $842 billion, but that wasn’t enough for defense hawks in Congress, mostly Republicans. The final outlay figure will exceed $850 billion — but it probably won’t exceed last year’s huge hike of nearly 10%.
A HIKE IN DEFENSE SPENDING is likely because GOP defense hard-liners are dominant on Capitol Hill; neither Trump nor DeSantis is a member of Congress. GOP hawks like Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney will prevail on higher spending.
BUT PRESIDENT BIDEN KNOWS that support for Ukraine and more defense spending could fade further as the 2024 election approaches, with most Republican voters backing either Trump or DeSantis. Thus the pressure will grow on the White House to get as much spending as possible this year.
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF BIDEN LOSES HIS RE-ELECTION BID? First of all, that’s entirely possible, not just because of his age. His decision to approve massive new oil drilling in Alaska has infuriated young people and environmentalists, key Biden constituencies that may never come back. He’s no shoo-in for a second term.
SO BIDEN KNOWS that support for Ukraine and more defense spending could further erode as the 2024 election approaches, with most Republican voters backing either Trump or DeSantis. Thus the pressure will grow on the White House to get as much spending as possible this year.
THAT WAS CLEAR in yesterday’s proposed defense budget, which will seek authorization for multi-year purhases of munitionsns, which would lock in outlays for several years, not just the upcoming fiscal year. The new proposed budget would fund $30.6 billion next year to replenish munitions.
UKRAINE NEEDS MORE MILITARY AID SOON, as its troops bog down in the horrific battle of Bakhmut. The war criminal Putin knows he has a numerical advantage of soldiers that he can sacrifice — because if he waits long enough, Republicans like DeSantis could pull the plug.
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