The Zakheim Prescription

In a hearing last week on the Quadrennial Defense Review, Dov Zakheim, formerly the top Pentagon budgeteer, offered a familiar refrain. He expressed concern about the way that military personnel benefits, principally health care, continue to drain funds from acquisition. He argued that they must be prevented from “rendering moot many laudable QDR objectives.” His prescription is to remove the health care obligation from the Pentagon budget proper and fund it separately as an entitlement. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, noted that his panel had attempted to take that very step and were “promptly rebuffed by the budgeters.”