Analysts: Trump budget would help Wright-Patterson, Springfield base

The president wants to increase defense spending by $54 billion to $639 billion in 2018, which would certainly help Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Air Force overall.

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The president wants to increase defense spending by $54 billion to $639 billion in 2018, which would certainly help Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Air Force overall.

When it comes to President Trump’s federal budget plan, there is good news and bad news for military installations such as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Springfield Air National Guard Base.

The upside: The president wants to increase defense spending by $54 billion to $639 billion in 2018, which would certainly help the bases overall.

“Any way you look at it, this budget would be good news for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The Air Force would get a lot more money and much of it would go into the kind of programs that are managed by Wright-Patt,” said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst for the Lexington Institute in Virginia.

The downside: It is unlikely the plan will win Congressional approval.

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“The only way Trump can get his big increase in defense spending is to win repeal of a law that caps military spending and Democrats won’t go along,” he said. “Even the Republicans are saying that it is dead on arrival.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said the budget increases for the base are inflated and don’t go far enough saying they are “not sufficient to increase the military.”

He also said the proposal does not address sequestration Defense budget cuts.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, said in a written statement: “This budget is Dead On Arrival. I would remind the White House that under the Constitution it is the Congress that holds the power of the purse.”

Trump’s budget proposals are two-fold. He wants to boost military spending by $54 billion in 2018. But he also wants to add $30 billion to defense spending for the current fiscal year, a change that would require 60 votes in the Senate — where the GOP holds 52 seats, said Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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The federal lawmakers failed to agree on a full budget so the government has been operating this fiscal year — now about half over — based on last year’s numbers. That stop gap deal ends in April.

“We are at gridlock. I would say the biggest impact for Wright-Patt is there is a risk of a government shut down at the end of April because they have not figured out how to work this budget deal,” Harrison said.

Analysts at think tanks are complaining that Trump’s 2018 budget document is too skimpy on details to fully evaluate it. The proposal omits info on big entitlement programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, lacks grand totals and deficit/surplus numbers, and only looks ahead by 18 months, instead of a typical five or 10-year window. The Trump document said more details are coming in the spring.

Dayton Development Coalition Vice President Michael Gessel said, “There’s not much to say about WPAFB based on the two pages about the Department of Defense in the budget blueprint or the tables.”

Reading signals in those two pages leads to some guess work, even for experts like Gessel.

“The budget document has some of the words that could lead to increases for Wright-Patterson such as ‘ensure technical superiority, and repair aging infrastructure’ for the Air Force. But ensuring technical superiority could mean increases to technology research, with a direct benefit to the base, or it could mean purchasing more high tech equipment, with less of an impact,” he said.

Thompson said ending military spending limits, called “sequestration,” and increasing the defense budget would no doubt benefit Wright-Patt and the Dayton economy. The spending limits have hampered the Air Force ability to buy new weapons systems and maintain existing ones, he said.

Trump has indicated he wants to buy more fighters, bombers, tankers and trainers. The Air Force Materiel Command, based at Wright-Patt, manages aircraft development and production programs.

“In most of America these priorities would create a problem but Dayton is one community where the defense increases are probably more of a plus than the domestic cuts are a negative,” Thompson said.


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