`Everything Is Intact' Defense Spending Unscathed in Budget Package

Article excerpt

Lost in the hullabaloo over the balanced budget agreement was a decision that the Pentagon will have to make do without big spending increases into the next century.

While precise budget numbers in the agreement reached by the White House and congressional leaders were still being worked out, the agreement in essence accepted GOP defense numbers in the near term and White House numbers in the first few years of the next century, lawmakers said Thursday.

In each year, that agreement means that the higher of two possible defense spending numbers was chosen for the long-term spending plan. On paper, it looks as if defense spending will increase. But when adjusted for inflation, the Pentagon's buying power in 2002 will be about the same as it is today. "Everything is intact," said Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, an ardent backer of defense spending. Sen. John Warner, R-Va., said the budget agreement on defense reflects broad consensus. "There wasn't a great deal of debate on the defense issue. It was a recognition that defense should basically stay where it is." Spending estimates released Thursday by the Senate Budget Committee indicate that the agreement between the White House and Congress will add $3. …