Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Romney and the Military, Revisited

On Monday, I wrote about Christopher Preble's graph of the Pentagon's budget. On Tuesday, as Republican voters gave Mitt Romney victories in six of ten states, Preble published a post with an updated version of the graph including Romney's planned military spending. I've reproduced the graph below:

Romney's plan is in cyan; Obama's plan is in pink, while the Congressionally-mandated sequester cuts, required due to the failure of the deficit Supercommittee, are in red. I noted on Monday that even the sequester cuts would merely restore us to the level of spending we saw under George W. Bush from 2003-2007. It's also worth noting that Obama's plan, criticized by Republicans and especially Romney for gutting the military, keeps the Pentagon's budget permanently higher than it ever was under Bush.

But Romney's plan really takes the cake. He wants to spend at least 4% of GDP on the Pentagon. Since the current level is closer to 3.4%, that's about a $100 billion jump in Romney's first year, even though we're out of Iraq and winding down the fight in Afghanistan. As you can see in the graph above, that would immediately push the Pentagon's budget higher than it was even when Reagan was defending us from the Soviets.

Even worse, by indexing the Pentagon's budget to economic growth, the amount we spend will continue to grow with literally no end in sight. That will make it even more difficult for Romney to meet his pledge of capping government spending at 20% of GDP. More to the point, we need a president who will take the endlessly-growing, out-of-control spending programs in the federal budget and restore them to sensible, stable levels. Since Romney is promising to take a large-but-stable spending program and send it growing out of control, why should we trust him to reign in spending in the rest of the budget?

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