Most Americans Want to Slash Defense Spending, but It’s Barely Part of the Deficit Discussion
Thursday, July 21, 2011
From food assistance to Medicare, politicians in Washington have discussed various ways to trim the budget deficit. But the most costly federal agency—the Department of Defense—has been treated by conservatives as a sacred cow, with no willingness on the right to trim military spending despite Americans support to do just that.
Tea Party Republicans have called for cutting funds to feed poor children and mothers and slashing aid for community health centers. But when it came to the Pentagon, the GOP increased the amount requested by Defense officials by $17 billion, according to Representative Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota).
“At $649 billion, the Pentagon’s budget amounts to more government spending than all other federal agencies combined,” McCollum wrote in The Hill.
Although a post-economic-meltdown, cost-cutting spasm has stymied any attempts at real financial stimulus and thrust the country into a paralyzing debate about the debt ceiling, it’s only been recently that a few Republicans have cast a jaundiced eye upon the Defense Department.
And it’s enraging the most muscular of Republicans, ensconced on the House Armed Services Committee.
Chairman Buck McKeon (R-California) blasted the bipartisan senatorial “Gang of Six” this week for its plan to settle the debt ceiling fight by inferring that $886 billion in defense spending over the next 10 years would be OK.
“It is our belief that this proposal raises serious implications for defense and would not allow us to perform our constitutional responsibility to provide for the safety and security of our country or keep faith with men and women in uniform,” McKeon wrote.
House Republicans’ determination to expand the Defense Department budget runs contrary to the belief held by nearly half the country that military spending can be cut, and without any repercussions to national security.
A new Rasmussen Reports survey found 48% of Americans believe military spending can be reduced significantly without endangering the nation. The same poll also revealed 79% of respondents feel the U.S. spends too much on defending other countries, with 68% saying Washington can trim these appropriations and not risk the American people’s safety.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Ken Broder
Defense Spending Fuels the Debt Crisis (Representative Betty McCollum)
48% Think Major Cuts in Defense Spending Won’t Put America at Risk (Rasmussen Reports)
Public Support Waning for Defense Spending (by Leo Shane III, Stars & Stripes)
McKeon Balks at 'Gang of Six' Defense Cuts (by Megan Scully, National Journal)
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