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  • Chart of the Week: Defense Spending Throughout U.S. History

    President Obama visited the Pentagon on Thursday to outline his plan for gutting our nation’s military. Obama’s vision makes America more vulnerable to foreign threats and leaves our armed forces less able to provide for the common defense.

    As we’ve previously illustrated, Obama has proposed significant reductions to the Pentagon’s budget. This week’s chart shows how sharply defense spending has dropped as a percentage of the total federal budget — currently well below its historical average despite ongoing operations overseas. The chart also debunks the myth that our Founding Fathers were isolationists.

    During his Pentagon visit, Obama claimed the country is safer today than when he took office. Heritage’s James Carafano, writing in the New York Post, called Obama’s assertion “laughable.”

    Not only is the world not a safer place than when Obama came into office, the strategy his Pentagon has produced to deal with today’s challenges may well make it far worse.

    Let me translate the Pentagon report into English: The administration is going to gut the Army and Marine Corps, while hitting the Navy and Air Force less (for now). The “strategy” basically says, We have a four-legged stool; we’re going to cut off two legs.

    For more information on defense spending and how the Budget Control Act of 2011 will impact our nation’s military, Heritage produced a fact sheet that outlines what cuts to expect in the future.

    Posted in Featured, Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    19 Responses to Chart of the Week: Defense Spending Throughout U.S. History

    1. rayvd says:

      How about as % of GDP? The budget has been highly inflated the last few years *cough* decades…

    2. @gdthomp01 says:

      The chart on the left presents a time when the US was not involved in so-called "entitlement" spending and the government was basically following its constitutional duty which is mainly defense. The chart on the right has the defnese spending lower as a percentage of the budget because now defense spending competes with social security, welfare, medicare and unemployment insurance. It'd be interesting the see the same chart on the right with those items removed.

      So this graph duo not only dispels the meme from Obama that we are spending too much on Defense but it also highlights the massive spending cuts that need to happen in the entitlement areas. Did our founders really expect to have 90% of all tax revenues go to social security, welfare, medicare, medicaid and unemployment insurance?

      That's what's happening right now!

    3. faithironsweatchalk says:

      The continued reduction in the military budget is not the only threat to our security. The liberal-progressive ideas have turned the military into a social experiment. Their ideology has crept in by the disfuntional education system, and a devalued family giving us a base of new recruits who feel entitled to everything. Once in service, those who were in before the war, now have to re educate, and discipline people who have never been held to hard standards. Most of the time is spent on personel issues and less on the job.
      With the coming cuts, and offered 15 year retirement options, the last of the pre-war troop base will exit service, and leave a new service to fend for itself.
      (these are my opionions alone, and are not the stand of any service)

    4. Zack says:

      It'd be more helpful to just see a chart of the total dollars adjusted for inflation. It doesn't surprise me that it seems so low when compared to the overall federal budget because the federal budget keeps getting inflated by entitlement programs.

    5. Keith Newport says:

      These people (leftists) live in an alternate universe. They gain power and they rule by deception (search for Saul Alinsky). Americans can't wait to be spoonfed the truth about the radicals that are trying to fundamentally change our Republic. The upcoming election is the most important since our founding!
      As a matter of curiosity, does the percentage go down because overall spending increases are disproportionately higher due to entitlement indulgences?

      • Ben says:

        Another important factor is that homeland security, and the expansion of the US intelligence apparatus isn't included in Defense spending here. Given that the DHS didn't exist 15 years ago and today consumes around $10 billion. Also, it's important to recognize that the military budget is higher now than it was during the height of the Cold War, are a few thousands Islamic fundamentalists really more dangerous thanthe Soviet Union at its peak?

    6. Bob says:

      Why doesn't national security appear larger on the screen of GOP candidates? If our nation is not adequately secured, all other issues become mute…confused.

      • Ben says:

        Because Obama can't realistically be attacked on defense after wrapping up two unpopular wars (the cost of which aren't included in this graph btw) and assassinating bin Laden and other key terrorist leaders. Whether or not you like what he did, or think he did it well, he's positioned himself as strong on national security.

    7. Jeff, Illinois says:

      Is there any . . ANY . . possibility that our present defense budget which is larger than all other potential combatant defense budgets combined is already more than adequate to respond to any potential threat? Is there ANY appropriate limit on spending for our defense? Or should we drain every dollar from our so-called entitlements, education, and infrastructure budgets for the sake of defense? What exactly is the cost of FREEDOM? Is it freedom and liberty if we can't at some point determine that the next best course for our defense is to stay smarter rather than larger? What is this obsession with defense spending? And comparing to centuries past is absurd if one considers real dollars. Again we are outspending the world. When is enough enough and we instead take that money and improve our own infrastructure and economy?

      • Mike, Wichita Falls says:

        By we, I assume you mean we the government. Well, rather than have we the government take that money and improve our own infrastructure and economy, why not let we the people keep more of our own money to more efficiently improve them? You want a smarter rather than a larger defense? I want a smarter rather than larger government. That means stop robbing us and our children blind with unconstitutional government programs especially entitlements.

        What is the cost of freedom? Ask the families of the nearly 6600 soldiers who have died thus far in the "war on terror". How about the estimated 1.3 million who have died from the infancy of this country to the present defending our homeland and that of our freedom-loving allies? Did they die in vain? Did they fight for free without uniforms, armament and pensions if they made it home alive? That is money well spent.

        • Ben says:

          You're assuming that our military actions are actually responsible for maintaining our freedom. That is highly debatable. I'll give you WWII, but any serious analysis of Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom will show that the freedom of US citizens was never threatened. The tragedy of 9/11 notwithstanding, Jihadism had never been a serious threat to our national security. Note that the operations that killed bin Laden, and most other terrorist leaders were small special forces missions or done strikes. No invasion was necessary, and arguably killing those guys wasn't even necessary since it's just as "easy" (as a military invasion and occupation) to isolate them politically – and far cheaper.

      • Jeff, Illinois says:

        When is enough . . . enough?

    8. Von Kays says:

      Does this defense spending include the off-budget-sheet spending?

    9. Tom, Alexandria VA says:

      I think a better comparison is defense spending as a percentage of the gross domestic product. It will still show a decline.

    10. allen says:

      Why do we develop these new weapons than turn around and sell them?

    11. Bobbie says:

      What is freedom to you, Jeff? What is the government's role to you? What is the obsession with defense spending, that isn't your own? What makes you think any CUTS TO THE PRESIDENTS DUTY, is money into infrastructure? Why shouldn't we drain every dollar from entitlements from people that don't qualify, need, or take without giving? Why shouldn't we clean up the domestic corruption that costs needlessly from the innocent?

    12. Pete says:

      I cannot believe how intellectually dishonest this 'article' is. The numbers don't include Iraq or Afghanistan. That right there shoots the entire premise of this article out of the water, unless you are playing on words and meaning 'defense' as actual defense… but let's face it, any discussion about 'defense spending' in the last 20 years hasn't meant DEFENSE, it's meant 'theatre presence' and 'enriching contractors' and 'bombing brown people and regime-toppling because they have natural resources we covet.'

      Then you factor in the DHS and the black hole of money that agency represents (and if they don't qualify as 'defense spending', no matter how mis-guided…) and you see 'defense spending' is, in fact, so goddamn high as to bankrupt us just like it happened in the USSR. I'm all for a strong military, but we have more aircraft carriers than the rest of the world combined, We have more bases than the rest of the world combined. We spend more on the military than most of the rest of the world, combined.

      We need serious spending CUTS in defense, as well as corporate entitlements, and we need to start building a country where it makes sense for businesses to hire people, and keep them on even after a few raises, rather than ditching them for the new guy they can pay peanuts again.

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