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AEI’s newest research paper delves into President Donald Trump’s second defense budget, the first to include five- and 10-year outlooks for defense spending. Despite claims that this was a banner year for defense, the conclusions from the budgetary documents are often stark:
President Trump’s budget for national defense in fiscal year 2019 (PB19) represents the highest Pentagon topline in real terms since 1986 for base spending and 2012 when factoring in Overseas Contingency Operations. This budget matches Reagan-era toplines in form, but not in substance.
The $700 billion in enacted defense spending for 2018 is a substantive increase over 2017 enacted and 2018 requested spending. However, the $716 billion topline for 2019 just keeps pace with inflation.
The administration’s first five-year budget, the Future Years Defense Program, suggests the overall fiscal outlook for defense spending will flatline in 2020 and beyond.
PB19’s changes are evolutionary, not revolutionary—it does not buy the