Ezra Klein is a big fan of this explanation of the budget debate from CBO Director Doug Elmendorf:
I agree that it’s a solid summary of some of the key elements of each budget, but my earlier post on the budget process suggests that Elmendorf’s focus misses the most important part of the budget debate.
“You fall in the damn water and you’re wearing water-colored camouflage. What the hell is that?”
That’s from an unidentified Navy sailor pointing out the problems with the Navy’s blue camouflage uniforms, one of ten different types of camouflage used by the U.S. military. There used to be just two patterns – green for forests and brown for deserts. Then the services decided they each needed their own camouflage patterns, and paid to develop and outfit their personnel with the ten varieties we have today.
That’s going to catch the eye. (Wikimedia Commons)
There’s a lot to shake your head at here, but the Navy’s blue uniforms really take the cake. Even if the sailors blend in, the big grey ship is going to stand out. As the sailor points out above, all the blue uniforms are is a safety hazard.
A lot of this seems to come back to service pride – the Marines refused to share their design – and also the desire for commanders to make a mark on their institution. I once heard the explanation that new uniform designs are a visible way to have an accomplishment, when changing deep institutional biases might just lead to failure and frustration.
But if the military can spend all this money on fashion, it does suggest that there’s room to cut the defense budget.
I haz a sad. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
The Washington Post reports that pressure is dropping to reach a budget deal to cut the deficit, complete with a picture of Paul Ryan having a sad. The pressure to cut the deficit is dropping because the deficit is already being cut. The economy is improving, which means more tax revenue and lower spending on safety net programs. Also, Congress already enacted large tax increases and spending cuts when it passed legislation to raise the debt ceiling in 2011 and avert the “fiscal cliff” at the end of 2012.
While cutting the deficit further is not an urgent priority, reaching a budget deal should be. That’s because a portion of the spending cuts already enacted by Congress is “sequestration,” an across-the-board cut that is causing problems throughout the country. Republicans oppose the cuts to military spending, and Democrats are primarily concerned about the cuts in domestic programs. Neither side likes sequestration. It was included in the debt ceiling package to encourage a future budget deal that would replace the across-the-board cuts.
The President has released his budget for the 2014 fiscal year, and the House and Senate have passed their budgets as well. None of these will ever implement a dime of taxing or spending – the budget never has that authority. So do they matter at all, or is this all for show?