“The average American out there, by big percentages, wants to cut defense by twice the sequester amount,” he said, citing recent polls.
“We need to stop with all the superlatives about the thing and be rational about it and involve the American people on it,” Bartlett said. “It’s their country. It’s their kids that will have to fight the next war. They have a right to be involved, don’t they?”
Indeed, polls have found that a large majority of Americans want to cut military spending. The baseline U.S. defense budget has doubled in the last decade and U.S. military spending represents 40 percent of the world’s total and 70 percent when combined with U.S. allies. But Bartlett’s reasoned position puts him at odds with HASC chairman Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), who regularly tries to scare the public about reducing the Pentagon’s budget.
Defense industry contributions may explain, at least in part, the difference in opinion. According to OpenSecrets.org, defense contractors have given McKeon nearly a half a million dollars, while Bartlett has received just over $100,000.
While Bartlett notes that the sequester is probably not the best way to cut military spending (CAP’s Lawrence Korb has some ideas on some alternative methods), he’s right that it won’t be a “devastating” blow to the military or the nation’s defense. The Congressional Budget Office said recently that it would merely bring Pentagon spending back to 2006 levels.