The Trump administration’s proposed budget includes a light cap on spending for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). This represents only a very small anticipated decrease in certain Pentagon spending, but that hasn’t stopped neoconservatives from crying foul.
OCO spending is capped at $65 billion in the Trump spending request being touted by budget director Mick Mulvaney. This is no small number, but it is down from the $83 billion that Congress approved for OCO spending in 2017. Mulvaney, a former member of the House Freedom Caucus, is intent on slowly reducing federal spending back to responsible levels, and that is wholly unacceptable to neocons insatiable in their lust for endless militarism.
“If we implemented this budget, we’d have to retreat from the world and put a lot of people at risk,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said. The prominent neocon threatened “a lot of Benghazis in the making” would take place unless federal spending was restored to the levels reached by the Obama administration.
“More than likely, [Mulvaney] is pleased with the prospect of a congressional trainwreck that will work to constrain federal spending closer to the austere levels set in the Budget Control Act. For budget hawks like Mulvaney, disrupting the Pentagon’s fiscal planning is a virtue,” neocon commentator Thomas Donnelly said in a Weekly Standard op/ed attempting to convince conservatives that the sky is falling over paltry cuts to the budget.
According to the National Priorities Project, the OCO accounted for 11 percent of discretionary defense spending in 2015. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that 70 percent of the OCO fund in 2017 goes to Operation Freedom Sentinel and government operations related to Afghanistan while the other funds are split amongst Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria, the European Reassurance Initiative, and the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund.
The OCO funds many interventionism in a myriad of ways, and is completely exempt from the 2011 Budget Control Act. Because of the lack of Congressional accountability and oversight, it has become a favorite slush fund for neocons. With the purse strings being tightened, the neocons may have to find other sneaky ways to divert taxpayer resources into fueling empire abroad.