Kudos for calling out GOP lawmakers anxious to bust the spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Contrary to what those who want to protect the Pentagon’s budget say, current spending levels are more than enough to keep us safe.
You note that yearly defense spending will increase by 18% between 2014 and 2021, but fail to note that the average Pentagon budget during that same period will be 18% higher than during a typical year in the Cold War. As Defense Secretary Robert Gates said back in 2009, if we “can’t figure out a way to defend the United States on a budget of more than half-a-trillion dollars a year, then our problems are much bigger than anything that can be cured by buying a few more ships and planes.”
Mr. Gates was right. We spend so much, in part, because many in Congress treat the Pentagon’s budget as a jobs program. For example, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon wrongly warned that defense spending cuts would “cripple our economy.” But Republicans, especially, should reject such military Keynesianism. Releasing more resources into the productive sector is the best way to boost the economy.
If left in place, the BCA spending caps might drive us toward a more sensible strategy that calls on other countries to do more to defend themselves. Removing those caps will ensure that U.S. troops and taxpayers remain on the hook.
The Cato Institute