As we pick over the bones of the election result, one question that surfaces over and over again is this: how many of his campaign promises will President Trump be able to keep, and to what extent?
Of particular interest to those in the consulting industry: Trump's spending plans, especially those that relate to defense—a corner of the industry that has taken something of a pounding since the sequester came into effect in 2013. The last time I looked into the figures, back in May, I noticed that the top 100 federal contractors had suffered a 7.2% decline in government spending between 2013 and 2015—a that represents an annual cut of around $17 billion.
As it turns out, that corner of the industry may well stand to be one of the biggest winners under President Trump: according to recent analysis by the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Trump's spending plans for defense and veterans will add some $950 billion to the federal budget over the next decade. Some $500 billion of this spending is earmarked for reforming the VA, with the remaining $450 billion going towards rebuilding the military.
Here’s what the CRFB says that the funds for rebuilding the military will be spent on:
- Increasing the number of troops in the active Army from 475,000 to 540,0000
- Increasing the number of Marine battalions from 24 to 36
- Increasing the number of navy ships from a planned 280 to 350
- Increasing the number of Air Force fighter aircraft to at least 1,200
- Instructing his generals to present a plan to defeat ISIS
- Modernizing missile defense and cyber security
As you can see, half of those items involve activities that can be outsourced to the like of BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, signaling that boom times may be ahead for those companies. (Not coincidentally, each of those companies has seen significant surges in their stock price in the few hours the markets have been open since the decision.)
If you're keeping score at home, that $450 billion is the cost of repealing the sequester—which lowered defense budget caps by $55 billion per year—for the next 9 years (when the sequester was originally due to expire).
And here's what the CFRB's best-case scenario on how it would be paid for:
Whether the "budget neutral" component actually comes into effect or not (history tends to suggest that it won't), one thing seems clear: the next decade seems bright for federal contractors.