According to experts at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Mitt Romney’s proposed defense budget would boost military spending to $945 billion by 2021–53% more than Obama’s defense budget plan for that year — despite polling data showing the U.S. public wants cuts in Pentagon spending. This could amount to $2 trillion in additional military spending within the next decade.
Leave aside that a recent study conducted by the Center for Public Integrity showed that both Democrats and Republicans alike have advocated for cuts in military spending and that the U.S. ended its war in Iraq and is on the path to doing the same in Afghanistan. What’s most troubling about Romney’s military budget’s disconnect from Romney’s own goals for the national deficit. L.A. Times columnist Doyle McManus writes today that Romney’s boost in military spending “flies in the face of, well, arithmetic.”
Budget experts have already said that Romney’s military budget numbers don’t jibe with his plan to reduce the federal deficit. When McManus asked Romney adviser Dov S. Zakheim, the former George W. Bush Pentagon official, about the apparent lack of coherence, Zakheim deflected. McManus writes:
Zakheim said Romney was serious about the goal but hasn’t specified a date for reaching it — and as a result, no specific spending forecast is possible.
“It is a target,” he said. “The sooner we reach it, the better. And we can build up faster as the economy grows.”
Zakheim said that building up military spending to 4 percent of GDP “isn’t exactly a lot,” but McManus retorts that “needs to explain how he plans to balance the federal budget while adding trillions in new military spending” — something Zakheim, like the Romney campaign at large, dodged.
Military leaders such as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have all defended President Obama’s defense spending plan. The President’s proposal to essentially keep the Pentagon budget flat for the next 10 years has been praised and touted as sufficient by the nation’s top military experts.