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Trump calls his own $716 billion defense budget ‘crazy’

President Donald J. Trump receives a briefing from senior military leaders Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
December 04, 2018

President Donald Trump criticized the defense budget on Monday, even though he signed a bill to increase it just months earlier.

“I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race. The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!” the President tweeted Monday morning.

In August, Trump signed a $717 billion defense spending bill for fiscal year 2019. The bill was the “most significant investment in our military and our war fighters in modern history,” Trump said at the time, according to CNBC.

The bill also provided the largest pay increase to U.S. troops in almost a decade.

Further, the fiscal year 2020 budget is expected to increase even higher to $733 billion, although Trump has demanded a reduction to trim the budget back down to $700 billion, which was the total of the 2018 budget that forced a rollback of the $549 billion budget cap.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, along with Congressional Armed Services committees’ members, are reportedly heading to the White House to meet with Trump on Tuesday to make their case against the $33 billion budget cut.

“I want to make sure that the President knows if we don’t do this – if we don’t stay with” the $733 billion request – “that we are are going to be downgrading the military,” said Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, according to Bloomberg. “I’m not sure he has clearly thought that through.”

Some military leaders have suggested that the budget cut could pose risks across all branches of the military.

“We are in the process now, very carefully across the department, examining the details of what the nature of that risk would be, who would it be imposed upon, and the nature of it,” Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Frank McKenzie recently said before the Senate Armed Services panel.

McKenzie noted that the $733 billion budget estimate “reflects our best projection of a strategy-informed budget,” after officials assessed “the requirements of the National Defense Strategy.”

Trump’s recent tweet also suggests that he is turning away from a previous vow about being a leader in the global arms race.

In December 2016 after winning the Presidential election, Trump declared, “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all,” according to NBC News.

Then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at the time, “There’s not going to be [an arms race] because he’s going to ensure that other countries get the message that he’s not going to sit back and allow that. And what’s going to happen is they will come to their senses and we will all be just fine.”