Donald Trump’s plan to reform the United States military has some elements that veer sharply from Republican orthodoxy, such as an end to foreign intervention, and others that hew closely to it, such as bolstering weapons programs. But the main feature of the proposal, as outlined in a speech on Wednesday morning, is that it comes with a serious price tag.
Trump’s reforms would cost the U.S. government an estimated $150 billion over the next 10 years, according to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan budget watchdog. That takes into account all of the offsets that Trump himself identified as means to pay for his policies. And that $150 billion estimate is, the group acknowledged, “generous” to the Republican nominee.
Other analysts discounted some of Trump’s proposed pay-fors as unserious efforts to bring down the cost that have limited, if any, chance of becoming law.
“My overall assessment,” said Stan Collender, a well-regarded budget expert, is “he wants to spend more and will increase the deficit and government borrowing to do it. The rest is all pure fiscal BS and it shows Trump isn’t ready for prime time on the budget.”
At the heart of Trump’s plan is the lifting of spending caps known as sequestration. Established in a 2011 deal to avoid a debt ceiling default, those caps have been partially dulled by budget deals hammered out by lawmakers these past few Congresses. Trump doesn’t want a similar deal to those of the past, though. Instead, he calls for lifting only the caps on defense spending while keeping in place the caps for spending on non-defense.
Trump framed this decision as a geopolitical imperative, arguing that the United States is forfeiting its military advantage by sticking to sequestration. In reality, the nearly $600 billion the government spends on defense is roughly $60 billion short of what the next 14 biggest defense-budgeting countries spend combined.   

Either way, lifting the defense caps comes at a significant cost, which the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated to be roughly $450 billion through 2026, before interest. But Trump, in his speech, pledged to pay for it all. And here is where his math doesn’t appear to add up.
To cover the cost, Trump proposed things like eliminating “government waste and budget gimmicks,” collecting unpaid tax revenues, reducing the size of the government “through responsible workforce attrition,” and ending the funding of programs that are not authorized in law. He tossed around figures for how much money all of these reforms might save. And, needless to say, budget experts don’t agree with him.
“Even generous estimates of these policies suggest they would only save about $300 billion over a decade,” said the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.  
A more biting analysis came from Collender, who argued that Trump’s proposals are essentially fictitious. Eliminating budget gimmicks, he noted, would actually increase the cost of Trump’s plan since “gimmicks are a way to make it look like you’re spending less. Cut them and spending goes up, not down.” As for collecting unpaid taxes, Collender noted that would require more IRS agents, a prospect Republicans are loath to consider.
“The GOP Congress has cut IRS so deeply that it can’t do its job,” he explained. “Does Trump really think the GOP will go for increasing the IRS budget and doing more audits?”
Analyses like this certainly will hurt claims from Trump, already difficult to take at face value, that he will find a way to fully pay for his military reforms. But it’s unlikely he will stop making the claims. Trump is already also proposing a massive tax cut and a major investment in infrastructure, in addition to a pledge not to touch entitlement programs ― all while insisting the debt is a huge burden that must be dealt with.

Trump now calling for more military $ + more VA $ + no entitlement cuts + tax cuts + giant infrastructure plan + wall/immigration force $— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) September 7, 2016

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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