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The Real "Ever-Expanding" Threat to Fiscal Sanity

Posted By Michelle Marinaro On February 19, 2009 @ 9:18 am In Economics | Comments Disabled

Congressman Barney Frank

Congressman Barney Frank met with reporters recently [1] to further voice support for the $700 Billion TARP allocation while concurrently hinting at the need for defense cuts. In his statement, the Congressman said, “The biggest ongoing threat, I believe, to fiscal sanity in this country is an open-ended ever-expanding military budget.” These remarks are not a huge surprise considering recent rhetoric from our government and military leaders.

Within the last month, Secretary of Defense Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, and Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin have all signaled that cuts are likely to occur. President Obama has suggested that these cuts may be as high as 10 percent.

However, Congressman Frank may be in need of a history lesson if he truly believes that our military budget is simply “open-ended” and “ever-expanding.” Not only is America’s military spending under complete control, it has dropped significantly as a percentage of GDP [2] in the last 60 years. Experts at The Heritage Foundation fear that military spending has fallen too much in recent years, and the strain now placed on our military become dangerous.

If Congressman Frank wants to take a look at true “open-ended ever-expanding” he should focus more on entitlement spending which is completely out of control. Not only does entitlement spending consume significantly more of the federal budget than defense spending [3], it is increasing at an exponential rate, while defense spending has dropped.

In this case, the numbers truly speak for themselves. Since 1945 defense spending as a percentage of GDP has dropped from 34.5 percent to its current number which is just under 4 percent. That doesn’t seem so out of control to me. Entitlement spending [4] on the other hand currently consumes about 8.4 percent of our GDP, and at its current rate will rise to a staggering 18.6 percent in the coming decades.


Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2009/02/19/the-real-ever-expanding-threat-to-fiscal-sanity/

URLs in this post:

[1] met with reporters recently: http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2009/02/barney_franks_plan_for_the_mil.asp

[2] as a percentage of GDP: http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/images/b2110_chart1.gif

[3] entitlement spending consume significantly more of the federal budget than defense spending: http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/images/b2110_chart2.gif

[4] Entitlement spending: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/sr0043.cfm

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