Rep. Ryan’s Plan Fails to Address Defense Spending
Defense Cuts Are a Necessary Part of Spending Reduction Plans
SOURCE: AP/Cherie Cullen
Any serious proposal to reduce the federal deficit has to put defense spending on the table. Why? Let me count the ways:
- The baseline defense budget comprises 20 percent of the overall federal budget and 50 percent of the discretionary portion.
- The U.S. share of worldwide defense spending grew from one-third to one-half in the last decade. This means 5 percent of the world’s population accounts for 50 percent of the world’s military spending.
- The baseline defense budget has nearly doubled in the past decade and is now higher in real terms than what we spent on average during the Cold War when we were faced with an existential threat from another superpower.
- The Obama administration already plans to spend 20 percent more on defense than was spent on defense during the Bush administration.
- Total U.S. defense spending is now higher in real terms than at any time since World War II.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) “Path to Prosperity” not only fails to put defense cuts on the table; it actually wants defense spending to continue growing in real terms. Ryan’s “deficit reduction plan” calls for a $22 billion increase in defense for FY 2012, and he wants to increase the baseline budget by another $60 billion over the next four years. This means that in FY 2016, DOD would receive $642 billion. Ryan’s proposal would have us spend nearly $6.5 trillion on defense—exclusive of war costs—over the next decade.
Ryan’s plan puts him at odds with all of the groups established to bring the federal deficit under control: the Bowles-Simpson Commission, the Domenici-Rivlin Task Force, and the Frank-Paul Sustainable Security Defense Task Force. These groups recommended reducing projected expenditures over the next decade by about $1 trillion, which would bring defense levels back to the Cold War average in inflation adjusted dollars.
How did the person New York Times columnist David Brooks praised for his courageous leadership and for setting a standard of seriousness miss this? Apparently Ryan was taken in by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s claims that he has already proposed $178 billion in savings in defense spending. These were not real cuts. Gates plowed $100 billion of his “savings” back into the budget for other programs while the remaining $78 billion merely reduced projected growth in the defense budget.
The country, Congress, and the Republican Party deserve better than Ryan’s ignorance of defense.
Lawrence J. Korb is a Senior Fellow at American Progress.
- House GOP Plan Swipes at Social Security by David Madland and Christian Weller
- Ryan’s Hidden Middle-Class Tax Hike by Michael Linden
- Protecting Big Oil at the Expense of the Future by Daniel J. Weiss and Richard W. Caperton
- A Massive Gift to Wall Street by David Min
- GOP Budget Slashes Pell Grants by Julie Margetta Morgan
- Ryan’s Step Backward for Education by Diana Epstein
- Rep. Ryan’s Proposed Infrastructure Savings Don’t Add Up by Donna Cooper
- An Exclusive ‘Path to Prosperity’ by Heather Boushey
- Ryan’s Unbelievable Path to Prosperity by Heather Boushey and Adam Hersh
To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:
Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or email@example.com
Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or email@example.com
Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, TalkPoverty.org, faith)
202.478.5328 or email@example.com
Print: Beatriz Lopez (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.741.6255 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Spanish-language and ethnic media: Rafael Medina
202.478.5313 or email@example.com
TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Radio: Sally Tucker
202.481.8103 or email@example.com