Report: The Pentagon Must Cut Spending

President Obama’s Pentagon budget proposal exceed’s last year’s request by $1 billion and CAP defense budget experts Lawrence Korb, Alex Rothman and Max Hoffman think the White House can do better. “This is a missed opportunity to realign our national security priorities,” they write in a new brief, adding, “Unnecessary defense spending does not make us safer; it diverts resources away from other critical investments here at home that create jobs and rebuild our infrastructure.”

The report notes that in 2011, the United States spent more on its military than the next 13 biggest spenders combined (a majority of those nations are U.S. allies) and note that Obama’s defense budget proposal maintains an “unwillingness to return military spending to prewar levels or historical norms in real terms.”

The authors agree with the Obama administration that sequestration is not the best way to reduce military spending, and note that winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — an era of unprecedented levels of defense spending — provide an opportunity to bring down U.S. military spending, as their graphic illustrates:

CAP released a report last year outlining some spending reductions that are not only politically feasible but also maintain American national security and military dominance:

  • Eliminate the Navy’s purchase of the troubled over-budget F-35C jet and instead purchase the effective and affordable F/A-18E/F jet. Savings: about $17 billion over 10 years.

Reduce the size of our ground forces to their prewar levels. Savings: about $16 billion over the next decade.

  • Reform the Pentagon’s outdated health care programs. Savings: roughly $40 billion over 10 years.
  • Reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons to 1,100 by 2022 from about 1,700 today. Savings: more than $28 billion over 10 years.

“The United States faces no existential threats or rival superpowers,” Korb, Rothman and Hoffman write. “We should not be spending as much on defense as we did during the Cold War. Returning the defense budget to historical norms will force the Pentagon to better manage its affairs and will help ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly.”