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  • CHART: How Much Money Should Go to National Security?

    “It’s a ship without sailors. It’s a brigade without bullets. It’s an air wing without enough trained pilots. It’s a paper tiger,” said Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta about the effects of the looming sequestration, which will cut more than half a trillion dollars from the defense budget over the next 10 years.

    The notion that America’s military power could potentially be reduced to that of a “paper tiger” is especially frightening. Not only is the U.S. military still engaged in Afghanistan, but the recent deadly attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, as well as the violent anti-American protests at several U.S. embassies, should remind us that we are living in an unsafe world during highly uncertain times—times during which questioning the allocation of at least 4 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) on defense spending, as Ruth Marcus cites in her Washington Post op-ed, seem ludicrous.

    The Department of Defense, along with every other federal agency, should strive to find efficiencies. But less than a fifth of U.S. spending is on defense, yet it has already accounted for more than half of deficit reduction efforts. The Constitution states that the government must provide for the common defense. Part of upholding that promise is allocating enough money to national security to keep our nation safe.

    As The Heritage Foundation projects, allotting approximately 4 percent of the nation’s GDP for defense spending is a good benchmark to ensure that the U.S. military has the capabilities it needs. Maintaining a steady, robust defense budget would continue to provide for military modernization and superiority.

    Conversely, cutting defense spending even more would debilitate our military—not to mention contribute to weakening our national defense by crippling the industrial base that supports a strong military. Defense cuts could eliminate 1 million jobs in both the military and private sectors, which would drain much of the technical and practical knowledge the military needs in vital industries such as aerospace and shipbuilding.

    Instead of haphazardly cutting defense to attempt to lower the debt, the government needs to address the biggest portion of federal spending: entitlement programs. As Heritage’s Saving the American Dream plan states, “Congress must take tough action on discretionary programs and smaller entitlement programs” by not only eradicating inefficient programs but also making sure that entitlement programs focus on those really in need. By reducing the excessive spending on entitlement and discretionary programs and designating at least 4 percent of GDP for defense, the country would be both safer and more fiscally sound.

    To ensure the endurance of our dynamic military, Congress needs to act to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities “to raise and support Armies” and “to provide and maintain a Navy,” by stopping sequestration. Reducing defense spending to less than 4 percent of GDP in such uncertain times is dangerous to both national security and stability around the globe.

    The cost of readiness is a small price to pay for the safety of each American citizen and the championing of liberty, freedom, and democracy throughout the world.

    Bianca Falcone is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to CHART: How Much Money Should Go to National Security?

    1. John G says:

      We're still planning to spend more on our "defense" than the next 10 or so countries combined, even if these "cuts" happen (they're actually reductions in spending increases — typical political double speak). If we focus on actual defense and not nation building and unpaid mercenary work (aka helping other countries defend themselves) then we'll be fine. Of course if we want to continue our military empire, then yes, these "cuts" will make that more difficult.

      And I find it quite hypocritical for Heritage to offer up the "jobs" defense as a reason to not cut wasteful gov't spending… that's supposed to be a liberal talking point.

      I suppose anything's on the table when defending one's sacred cow.

      • Bobbie says:

        "we're still planning on spending more on 'defense' then the next 10 or so countries combined?" Whose "we're?" There shouldn't be any deductions in "defense" spending!! Eliminating waste and corruption goes along way with honorable people in position! Why do you think it proper the government compromises their sole duty in promotion to their unconstitutional goal into socialism for America?! Isn't America the sacred cow? or what is "the sacred cow" to you? America's "change" from freedom to socialism that you support as higher priority than national security?

        • John G says:

          There shouldn't be any deductions in "defense" spending
          First, the gov is not actually reducing military spending. We're reducing the amount of future increases. For example, if spending is supposed to increase at a rate of 7% annually, but a future budget changes that to 3%, politicians will claim their budget was reduced by 4%. It's typical political double speak that both sides of the aisle employ when it suits them, just as Heritage has done here.

          Second, since 2002 military spending is up something like 66%. Are we 66% safer today than we were then? I'd argue with all the drone strikes and national occupations that we're actually creating more enemies than we're purportedly killing.

          Eliminating waste and corruption goes along way
          There is waste and corruption in military spending just as there is in all other gov't programs.

          Why do you think it proper the government compromises their sole duty
          I'm not arguing for the elimination of the military. I'm arguing for returning our military to its constitutional role of national defense, not the military imperialism that we're currently doing. There is a difference, whether you care to admit it or not.

          • Bobbie says:

            lapse in oversight? I don't know about America and "military imperialism." I just know when America is called to defend, America defends! Totally agree costs should be expensed to those that call for America but America shouldn't support the costs of socialism over the cost of national defense and the cost of socialism is corrupt everywhere it is. America stands for freedom not socialism so it's priority to me.
            sorry for any misunderstandings…

            • John G says:

              "I don't know about America and "military imperialism."
              1000 military bases around the globe, 2M active troops, involving ourselves in conflicts that have nothing to do with us in countries that pose no credible threat. That is pretty much what military imperialism is.

              I just know when America is called to defend, America defends!
              Except our Constitution only allows for <our> national defense, not defending some other nation.

              America shouldn't support the costs of socialism over the cost of national defense
              I'm not supporting the costs of either. We're not going to shrink the gov't or our debt if we don't address SS, Medicare/Medicaid and our military spending.

            • Bobbie says:

              okay then, I don't like it (military imperialism.) But to address the national defense before addressing the costs of the existing anti American socialism is allowing socialism to infiltrate while compromising national defense. There's no reason Obama can't take America's military out of the areas he said he was going to and today. As national security is a government priority, it shouldn't be looked at before we knock out what's forbidden in this country!! We have addressed ss, mediscare and medifraid this administration is only circumventing for future catastrophe.

    2. Brian says:

      We should spend whatever money is necessary to defend our nation and not pin the amount to something as arbitrary as GDP. Trust that Heritage developed a correlation between defense spending and GDP only because it showed a "decrease" in spending. Imagine if we correlated ALL aspects of the federal budget to GDP.

      We do not need to compare the number of ships in the sea, or planes in the sky, or tanks on the ground, to any number from the past. The capabilities of our ships, planes, and tanks far exceed the capabilities of their predecessors, so comparing number alone is pointless.

      What we need to do is determine what the costs are for properly defending our nation. Let's NOT include in this number the costs of wars, defending other nations, nation-building, and policing the world.
      - Costs of war can be added as necessary.
      - Other nations can defend themselves, or actually PAY US to defend them. If either of those options is done, then there is no cost to the American Taxpayer…the cost of defending other nations will be -0- to us.
      - Nation building…why? So we can build allies? Does anyone realistically think that the "new" Afghanistan or Iraq will be our ally? Time will tell, but let's assume not. All that money wasted. So let's zero that out of the budget.
      - Policing the World…why? It seems that every time I read something about the defense budget and the upcoming sequestration, Republican Congress members are up in arms because it "might" inhibit our ability to "project our power". OK…so why do we care? If you ask the average American Joe who's just trying to get by, he probably doesn't give a crap about "projecting our power". Let Israel take care of Iran…they can probably flatten Iran although not as quickly as we can. Of course after the missiles stop flying, Israel will go home; we'd stick around for the next 20 years trying to make Iran an ally. (Won't work, see above).

      Somehow, I think it was WW2, we forgot what the purpose of our military was. The purpose should be to defend our nation. Instead, we went on a massive spending spree to project our power, protect our allies. And trust me, those allies have been laughing a very long time, while watching us spend massive amounts of money protecting them. It's time to stop. Protect the USA…

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