Shattering norms even on his way out the door, Donald Trump has another stunt in his belt to make life more difficult for the man who will thankfully replace him as president in 49 days.
While traditionally a lame-duck administration will prepare a military budget proposal for the coming fiscal year — usually one that is started prior to the results of the election being determined — once it is clear that a new president will be taking over, the work on the budget is discretely handed over to the transition team of the incoming administration who then revise and replace the proposed Pentagon outlays with a budget that reflects the new president’s priorities.
With Trump still stubbornly defying reality with his claims that he actually won the election — if you don’t count the votes cast for Joe Biden — he is continuing the fiction of his delusional victory by releasing his proposed 2022 Pentagon budget, reflecting his own misguided priorities and seemingly attempting to limit the Democratic president-elect’s flexibility in making changes going forward.
According to an article in Defense One, a publication aimed at defense and national security professionals, most of the two percent rise in the Trump administration’s military budget proposal consists of items that have been “fabricated” by current White House officials in a bid to “create a fake appearance of generosity to fund Defense priorities” that will “set [the Trump administration] up to be able to heckle the Biden administration from the sidelines for all of the inevitable reductions that will be made when we redo the budget in January [or] February, and in subsequent years,” citing “a defense official involved in crafting the budget plans” as the source of its info.
The move is unprecedented in recent times since none of the previous four presidents publicly submitted budgets during their lame-duck months out of courtesy to their incoming successors.
“’All [administrations] come in and get a finished budget handed to them, which they then make changes to. It’s just normally one doesn’t see the “draft” one,’ said a congressional aide, who called the move a ‘stunt,’” Defense One writes.
Even if the publication of the Trump military budget request is ultimately meaningless in terms of what is presented to Congress once Biden takes office, the details it includes does offer the public a glimpse at the literal bullets dodged through Trump’s defeat at the ballot box.
Defense One details many of the most controversial defense spending and policy choices that the outgoing administration has proposed for our nation’s defense spending.
“Among other things, the document shows a White House demand to “zero out” all funding for the counter-ISIS fight by 2022. It calls on the Defense Department to allocate funding to “determine new sites for EUCOM, SOCEUR, AFRICOM, SOCAF, and any other NATO moves” — referencing combatant and component commands for troops in Europe and Africa, currently located in Germany, where Trump controversially ordered a withdrawal of U.S. troops earlier this year, and where the Army last month ordered its commands to be combined and reorganized. It calls for a military pay raise, a favored, if exaggerated, political boast of the president’s. And it would grow the Space Force, the newest service branch of the military created under Trump.”
“It’s a ludicrous exercise, but its purpose is political, not planning,” said Gordon Adams, who ran defense budgeting during the Clinton administration and worked on President Barack Obama’s transition team. “What it allows the Republicans on the Hill to do is to claim that whatever Biden comes up with is a reduction from what the Pentagon should have. So they’re really setting up a political argument.”
For all of Donald Trump’s malevolence and mental incapacity, he has surrounded himself with some shrewd political operatives who are thinking ahead to the next battle.
Unfortunately, instead of planning for the next battle in the defense of the United States, Trump’s minions seem to be planning the next series of political attacks on the duly-elected next president.
Trump seems to be exiting the White House using the same sleazy political dirty tricks with which he entered the office of the presidency, planning his next barrage of mean tweets in his expected post-presidential propaganda offensive.
You can read more of Defense One‘s analysis of the Trump administration’s Pentagon budget request at this link.
Original reporting by Katie Bo Williams and Marcus Weinberger at Defense One.
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