Recently, President Obama unveiled a plan he claimed would cut U.S. military spending. However, several independent experts have come forward stating that the “cuts” are simply slowing future growth in military spending from previously projected figures, rather than actually cuts to the Defense budget.
In fact, Obama’s “cuts” are distributed over a period of ten years, over which time the next administration, whether under Obama or a Republican president, could make drastic changes to Obama’s non-binding plan. As the likelihood of his candidacy continues to near inevitability, Mitt Romney’s defense plan sheds light on the GOP’s likely strategy over the next several years.
Romney has been an outspoken critic of Obama’s plan to slow the growth in military spending, arguing instead that spending should be increased at an even greater pace than previously scheduled. According to a recent article in the Dayton Daily News Romney spokesperson Ryan Williams told the paper, “…[he] has set a baseline defense spending target equal to 4 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product,” Williams stated. The Dayton Daily News went on to note, “The nation recorded a $15.2 trillion Gross Domestic Product, the output of goods and services, in 2011.” That would put baseline spending alone, which excludes the war budget, the military programs of the CIA and State Department, and other military contingencies, at $608 billion. Obama has proposed a defense budget of $525 billion for FY 2011. Over the next ten years, Romney’s military spending plan—in comparison to Obama’s—would total at least 61% higher, according to research conducted by the Cato Institute.
And while Romney has advocated for decreasing the size of the Federal Budget, it he has not specified what sectors would be cut under his Administration, citing only that he would cut 20% of overall government spending. A 20% overall reduction amidst a substantial increase in military spending would certainly translate into massive cuts to social programs that Republicans in Congress have already targeted.
Stating an interest in increasing defense spending when America is winding down its involvement in two wars is irresponsible and unnecessary. Ultimately, Romney’s plan would increase defense spending 42% beyond Cold War levels, as Christopher Preble highlighted in his article “Recalculating Romney’s Four Percent Gimmick.” Coupled with the fact that this presidential hopeful has no specific plan where he will decrease spending to offset his plan to build up America’s military in peace-time makes Mr. Romney’s claims to decrease federal spending nothing but words. For Americans concerned with government spending, Mr. Romney’s plan to funnel additional billions of American tax-dollars into military spending increases debt and makes very little business sense.
In fact, one recently published research study by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) found that, contrary to the popularly held belief of many right-wing politicians such as Mr. Romney, an increase in military spending would not produce nearly as many jobs nationwide as would the same amount of money invested in areas such as infrastructure, education, clean energy, or healthcare. In an interview with The Real News, Robert Pollin the Co-Director of PERI stated, “You will get more high-quality jobs spending on the green economy, infrastructure, or healthcare than you will spending on the military.” In one especially hard-hitting example, Pollin sited figures found by PERI, showing that if the government was to spend $1 billion towards job growth, 16,800 jobs would be created by investment in clean energy, compared to just 11,800 jobs through the military. These numbers underscore the particularly faulty logic in Mr. Romney’s belief that increasing the military’s budget at the expense of other sectors is a sound source of governmental funding. The reality is that Mr. Romney’s plan would simply prolong the military industrial complex, consequently continuing to cripple the country in a deeper mire of debt, unemployment, and unwise allocation of funds.
In response to the astronomical rate of American military spending, the Institute for Policy Studies and the International Peace Bureau launched a day for citizens around the world to speak out against their governments’ use of money to sustain the harmful Military Industrial Complex. The second annual Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) will be held this year April 17th, which is also Tax Day this year in the U.S. The time has come for people to stand together in solidarity and hold their governments accountable for their actions in collaborating with the Military Industrial Complex. In 2011, GDAMS consisted in over 100 actions in more than 30 countries worldwide. This year, groups in over 35 countries have pledged to take part in what will surely be a loud cry to “Move our money” and fund human needs rather than war-profiteering corporate greed.
Anya Barry is an intern at Foreign Policy in Focus.