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Administration's Proposed Discretionary Spending Caps Represent Unsound and Inequitable Policy

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Abstract:

The Administration’s budget proposes to establish caps for each of the next five years on funding levels for discretionary programs (i.e., programs that are non-entitlements). Each year’s cap would be set at the overall funding level that the Administration’s current budget proposes for discretionary programs in that year, including defense as well as domestic programs.

The proposed caps would be set at levels that would necessitate steep cuts in domestic discretionary programs, unless defense, homeland security, and international affairs programs were funded at levels well below those the Administration’s budget shows for those programs over the next five years. As explained below, the levels that Congress ultimately provides for defense and anti-terrorism programs in years after 2005 are more likely to exceed than to fall below the levels shown in the Administration’s current budget; the Administration’s current budget omits a range of “out-year” defense and anti-terrorism costs that are likely to be funded.