U.S. spending on military and defense has fluctuated greatly between World War II and today. Spending increased from post-WWII levels and into the Korean War, then decreased during the 1970’s. It rose during Reagan’s time in office, declined when Clinton was president, rose again under Bush, and has been cut substantially again under Obama.
The Republican Party believes strongly in an increased military defense budget. In 2000 the party spoke out in defense of raising this budget, citing the fact that the administration had cut defense spending to its lowest percentage of gross domestic product since 1939. Republican views on military spending include the belief that raising this budget is the only way to “restore the health of a defense industry weakened by a combination of neglect and misguided policies.” Republicans also believe that this lowered budget has been a large contributor to the lower morale among members of the armed forces. In its call to action for a higher budget for defense, Republicans noted that “the US military faces growing problems in readiness, morale, and its ability to prepare for the threats of the future,” and that these problems arose as the military budgets were cut.
Public Opinion On Military Spending
The public opinion on the defense budget is very divided. The most recent Gallup Poll data shows 37% of Americans saying the nation spends too much on the military and 20% of Americans saying it spends too little. Everyone else seems to be happy with the current military spending. The public’s perception obviously fluctuated along with the fluctuations in military spending itself, with high percentages believing spending was too high in the 1970’s, 1990’s, and in 2002, right after the budget was raised post 9/11. Now that spending has been cut, the public is the most divided on this issue that it has been in decades. This makes the issue of military spending a hot-button issue as the 2016 election looms closer.
Republicans and Military Voting
The staunch support of military spending on the part of the Republican Party has left them in control of the military voting block through the years. A survey in 2012 showed the Republican Party polling at 58 percent among soldiers and veterans, a whole 12 percent higher than their polls nationwide. With the rest of the public so divided on the issue, this is yet another reason that military spending can have a large impact in the coming year.
Democrats Vs. Republicans on Military Spending
The Obama administration has proposed a sequestration, which is defined as “severe, automatic, across-the-board cuts in defense spending” over the next decade. The Republican Party adamantly opposes these cuts, stating, “would be a disaster for national security, imperiling the safety of our servicemen and women, accelerating the decline of our nation’s defense industrial base, and resulting in the layoff of more than 1 million skilled workers.” This sequestration would leave America with the smallest ground force it has seen since 1940, the smallest number of ships it has seen since 1915, and the smallest Air Force in history. Due to the growing treats worldwide to national security, Republicans believe that these cuts would be incredibly poorly timed and dangerous.
Furthermore, this isn’t an action that everyone believes can be easily reversed. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor states that, even with a Republican majority in Congress, they would need bipartisan support to revoke the sequestration. “I don’t see a path where you’re going to get bipartisan relief on BCA caps,” Cantor said, referring to the spending caps enacted in 2011. “There needs to be bipartisan agreement even though there’s a Republican majority in Congress.” Meanwhile, John McCain believes that it needs to be reversed, and that therefore the Party will find a way. “We have to fix it, I promise you that we will make it [fixing sequestration] our highest priority,” McCain said in a forum in late 2014.
Mitt Romney on Military Spending
Mitt Romney strongly supports his Party’s stance on higher military spending. Romney perceives a large array of threats on the horizon, including unrest in the Middle east and nuclear weapons in North Korea. “Things are much less dangerous now than they were 20 years ago, 25 years ago or 30 years ago,” he says. Therefore, he states, the idea of cutting our military commitment by a trillion dollars over this decade is unthinkable, and devastating.” He believes that the Pentagon’s plans to reduce the size of the Army and the Marines will cause a threat to the national security. Romney proposes adding 100,000 troops to each of these forces, as opposed to the cuts of 100,000 that Obama is making. He also would like to see 4 percent of the gross domestic product going towards military spending.
Chris Christie vs. Rand Paul on Military Spending
Chris Christie has been taking criticism for not supporting higher military spending. Rand Paul has suggested cutting spending elsewhere to afford raising the defense budget. Christie believes that this is illogical and lashed out against Christie and Washington politicians as a whole, stating “so if Senator Paul wants to start looking at where he’s going to cut spending to afford defense, maybe he should start looking at cutting the pork barrel spending that he brings home to Kentucky, at $1.51 for every $1.00 and not look at New Jersey, where we get $0.61 for every $1.00. So maybe Senator Paul could — could, you know, deal with that when he’s trying to deal with the reduction of spending on the federal side. But I doubt he would, because most Washington politicians only care about bringing home the bacon so that they can get reelected.” Paul lashed back, asking, “this is the king of bacon talking about bacon. You know, we have two military bases in Kentucky. And is Governor Christie recommending that we shut down our military bases?” Many, including Paul, believe that Christie is making a mistake by fighting his own party on this issue, and that it will hurt his chances in future elections.
- Republican Party on Defense – On The Issues
- Americans Remain Divided on Military Spending – Gallup
- The Republican Party and the Defense Budget Problem – Washington Monthly
- American Exceptionalism – GOP
- Republicans Will Have A Hard Time Reversing Military Sequestration, Even With Majority In Congress – International Business Times
- Romney’s Defense Plans Call For Higher Spending – NPR
- Republican Views on Defense Spending
- Democratic Views On Military Spending
- Democratic Views on Defense Spending
- Republican Views On The Military
- Republican Views on National Defense
- Prediction: Mitt Romney Runs Again in 2016
- Democratic Views on the Military
- Republican Views on Foreign Aid
- Republican Views on Social Security
- Rand Paul On The Issues