• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • The $2 Trillion Question: How to Preserve National Security?

    In the first presidential debate, President Obama criticized Mitt Romney’s proposed defense budget plan as “$2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for.” Two parts of this statement require clarification and context.

    First, the President failed to mention that this $2 trillion increase would take place over a 10-year period, not immediately. Romney’s plan, based on raising defense expenditures to 4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), is $2 trillion higher because the Obama fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget reduces defense spending significantly over that same 10-year period.

    The President intends to reduce defense spending by roughly half-a-trillion dollars from FY 2013 to FY 2022. Over that same period, a budget plan that would incrementally increase spending to reach 4 percent of GDP would be roughly $2 trillion more than the President’s budget. Rather than recklessly spending on one portion of the federal budget, spending 4 percent of GDP on defense responsibly invests in preserving national security into the future.

    The second part of President Obama’s quote also requires context. Claiming that the military didn’t ask for a $2 trillion increase in funding is, in literal terms, a true statement. While the armed services pledge to perform their duties with the budget they are given, there are numerous ways they require additional funding.

    The Air Force is flying geriatric planes, including a middle-aged bomber fleet and fighter jets that have spanned generations of pilots. The Navy’s fleet is constantly suffering mechanical and training breakdowns that stop them from executing missions. Soldiers have even had to strap body armor to SUVs because they couldn’t afford properly fortified vehicles in combat. The military faced these problems even before the President decided to dramatically reduce the defense budget.

    Another way to look at what the military “has asked for” is by looking at the laundry list of terminations and delays the FY 2013 Obama budget has planned. The budget eliminates 13 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft from FY 2013 and 179 of the fighters over the next five years. The F-35 is set to replace a broad array of the aforementioned geriatric fighters and represents the future of U.S. air dominance.

    The President’s budget also terminates the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 unmanned surveillance aircraft, which was intended to replace the aging U-2 fleet. The replacement for the aging Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine is also being delayed under Obama’s defense plan, which will create a capability gap in the most survivable leg of the nuclear triad. Military officials made these programs priorities because each is critical to national security objectives; they are not merely items on a wish list.

    Amid the demand to “put everything on the table” to reduce spending, the Obama Administration has failed to confront the largest debt driver: entitlement spending. Defense spending has already accounted for half of debt reduction efforts despite constituting only a fifth of total government spending. Without addressing the government’s true spending problems, defense cuts will accomplish nothing other than diminishing military readiness and risking America’s status as a global leader.

    The President should spend less time criticizing alternative budget proposals and focus more on his constitutional responsibility as commander in chief to provide for the common defense. He and Congress should work together to overturn debilitating defense cuts so the military can continue to protect America.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to The $2 Trillion Question: How to Preserve National Security?

    1. Bobbie says:

      How to preserve national security? Impeach the president and his administration. National security isn't their priority special interests are which will add money to national security when special interests are eliminated…

    2. Phil says:

      Debilitating cuts? How so? The defense budget is higher in real terms than it was during the Reagan Administration when it was twice as large and the U.S. faced an existential threat. I wonder where all the money they get goes now! Pegging defense spending at 4% of GDP is nonsensical. Ships and planes are not bought with percentage points, they are bought with dollars. And the size of the economy has little to do with military need.

    3. zbigniewmazurak says:

      This is utterly wrong. No, Mitt Romney does NOT propose to increase the defense budget by $2 trillion, not even over an entire decade. Not even close. The whole claim is a blatant lie made up by former Obama admin officials (who have now turned into Obama campaign propagandists) at the CNAS, and now repeated uncritically by the media. Why Mr Slattery is repeating this fiction is a mystery.

      In any case, it's wrong. Romney would increase defense spending by only $86 bn, from $525 bn in FY2013 (under Obama's plan) to $611 bn, a full 4% of GDP (4% out of a GDP of $15.29 trillion is $611 bn).

      To add $2 trillion to the defense budget, Romney would have to increase it by $200 bn every single year, over Obama's plan, and if increases in one year are below $200 bn, they'd have to be above $200 bn in other years. Romney does not plan to do anything of the sort. Not even close.

      The Heritage Foundation does not need to defend Romney's plans when these plans are, in fact, not even nearly as ambitious as Obama claims.

    4. zbigniewmazurak says:

      This is utterly wrong. No, Mitt Romney does NOT propose to increase the defense budget by $2 trillion, not even over an entire decade. Not even close. The whole claim is a blatant lie made up by former Obama admin officials (who have now turned into Obama campaign propagandists) at the CNAS, and now repeated uncritically by the media. Why Mr Slattery is repeating this fiction is a mystery.

    5. rebecca skelnik says:

      soldiers strapping armor to their SUV's in combat was during Bush's term, not Obama's.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×