• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Biden Is Wrong on Defense Spending

    Philip Ewing, in an article on Politico Pro about the vice presidential debate, asserts that comments about defense spending by Representative Paul Ryan (R–WI) signal that Governor Mitt Romney could abandon his pledge to maintain the defense budget at 4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

    Ewing is jumping to conclusions based on differing definitions of what is either a cut or an increase to the defense budget. Ryan asserts that Romney’s defense budget proposal means that a future Romney Administration would just not impose the reductions on the defense budget proposed by the Obama Administration. Vice President Biden asserts that the 4 percent pledge means a $2 trillion increase in the defense budget.

    In short, Ryan is right and Biden is wrong. The confusion stems from the process of converting the 4 percent allocation for defense into dollars and then comparing the dollar figures to a baseline that nobody can agree how to define. Biden wants everybody to accept the premise that the Obama Administration gets to define the baseline in any way it wants under the dollar conversion. Accordingly, using the dollar conversion makes describing the true state of affairs needlessly complicated.

    The clearest and most direct way to cut through this complication is to compare the Obama Administration’s proposed defense budget (setting aside the automatic spending cuts that may be applied starting next year under the Budget Control Act) and Romney’s proposal as shares of GDP and forgo the dollar conversion.

    According to data provided earlier this year by the Office of Management Budget, the defense budget is estimated to have consumed 4.7 percent of GDP in fiscal year (FY) 2011. By definition, the Romney proposal would let the defense budget fall to 4 percent of GDP and keep it at this level.

    According to the same data, the Obama Administration’s proposal would reduce the defense budget to 2.6 percent of GDP by FY 2022. This is why Ryan is right when he talks about the Romney defense budget proposal as simply not applying the reductions that the Obama Administration has already proposed.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Biden Is Wrong on Defense Spending

    1. @undefined says:

      There are so many things that Ryan is right about and Biden is wrong,

    2. Bobbie says:

      Paul Ryan is genuine and true. Joe Biden is a loud mouth with no seriousness as he laughs about terrorism and death and excuses himself for not paying attention to what's going on giving himself reason not to find out when ALL THIS ADMINISTRATION ARE EXPECTED TO BE WISER BEFORE HAND! How could they do this to American families? TREACHERY AGAINST AMERICA'S OWN!!!!!! The only faith this man Joe Biden practices is corruption!

      Little Joe says, "I don't want to impose my beliefs on women who want to kill their fetuses. That's not fair so I'll support law to have everyone else pay for pregnancies to abort." That makes sense, little practicing joe!! Your practicing catholicism has you infringe personal responsibilities on the uninvolved? That's not even human! Personal responsibility is the duty of all people living regardless of faith, you faithless little man!!!

    3. Grinder says:

      You need to do some math

      1. Take whatever projection of GDP you like–OMB's, CBOs or a higher growth estimate
      2. Multiply that number by 4% each year from 2013 or 2014 through 2022
      3. Compare that number to the projection for DoD spending in OMB documents. Or you can take the OMB projection and subtract $52.3b a year if you want to assume sequesterstration

      You can see that the different is greater than $2b annually. Ryan was wrong and Biden was right. Romney campaign either needs to own up to the 4% figure–which is a "floor" for spending or drop it. No more junk about baselines or other points that are simply wrong

    4. zbigniewmazurak says:

      Great post, Mr Baker, but no need to concede the "raw dollar" field to Obama and Biden. Even if raw dollars are used instead of percentage of GDP, Obama's and Biden's claim that Mitt Romney wants to add 2 trillion dollars to defense spending over the next decade is a blatant lie. It's completely indefensible. It's a fiction.

      If Obama's claim was true, Romney would have to add 200 bn to defense EVERY YEAR. Romney does not plan to do anything of the sort.

      Currently, America's GDP is 15.29 trillion, so 4% out of that is 611 bn, just 86 bn more than what Obama proposes for FY2013 (525 bn).

      Even if GDP miraculously grows to 16 trillion by FY2017, 4% out of that will still be only 640 bn, just about 100 bn over Obama's plan for FY2017 and not even close to 200 bn per year.

      Even if GDP grows miraculously to 17 trillion by FY2017, 4% out of such a GDP will still not be close to bring about the kind of growth of defense spending that Obama accuses Romney of planning.

      So no, in no FY would Romney add anything even CLOSE to 200 bn to the defense budget, not even under the most optimistic GDP growth scenarios.

      Obama's and Biden's claim is patently false. It's a fabrication.

    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.

    ×