Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Biden Administration Should Consider Reducing the Size of the Defense Budget, CAP Issue Brief Says
Press Release

RELEASE: Biden Administration Should Consider Reducing the Size of the Defense Budget, CAP Issue Brief Says

Washington, D.C. – A new issue brief from the Center for American Progress suggests the Biden administration should consider reducing the overall size of the defense budget to restore a measure of fiscal discipline without compromising U.S. security.

The brief urges President Joe Biden to consider reducing the size of the total defense budget from the proposed $755 billion for fiscal year 2022 to about $700 billion. It also urges the Biden administration to consider whether to use the savings to boost funding for the nonmilitary components of national security, such as the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.

“The Trump administration showed no fiscal discipline when it came to the defense budget,” said Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at CAP and co-author of the brief. “But the Biden administration will face significantly more strategic and political resistance if or when it makes any substantial changes to the size and distribution of the defense budget or to any of the policy choices that the Trump administration made.”

The brief notes that the defense budget that the Biden administration will inherit is higher, when adjusted for inflation, than what the United States spent at the peak of the Cold War under President Ronald Reagan. It is also significantly higher than the defense budget the Trump administration inherited in 2017.

President Biden has a unique opportunity to revitalize the country’s standing in the world by proposing a budget that prioritizes its diplomatic corps, the brief says. The president also must consider whether he will fulfill his campaign pledge to narrow the role that nuclear weapons play in U.S. military doctrine.

Other areas of potential savings include:

  • Halting procurement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which still has serious design and software flaws, and instead building more B-21 bombers
  • Cutting funds for the U.S. Navy’s plan to build four new large Ford-class aircraft carriers, which even President Donald Trump’s defense secretaries said was unnecessary
  • Curbing troop size, pay, operations, and maintenance

Read the brief: “An Opportunity for Change: President Biden’s First Defense Budget Proposal” by Lawrence J. Korb and Kaveh Toofan

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at [email protected].