House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) is a man on a mission. He’s making the rounds on Capitol Hill to convince his colleagues, particularly those on the 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, that they should avoid cutting defense spending.

McKeon has a point — and it’s one that is backed up by Heritage calculations from Congressional Budget Office data. This chart reveals that even if defense spending was eliminated entirely, entitlements would continue to fuel the debt crisis.

Making reforms to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is no easy task, but it’s the most logical step the Joint Committee could take to control spending while sparing cuts to vital national security programs. Heritage’s debt-reduction plan, Saving the American Dream, outlines how it can be done.

McKeon, meanwhile, isn’t taking chances. He’s recently met with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and member of the Joint Committee. Defense was already on the chopping block this summer and now faces the prospect of even deeper cuts. According to POLITICO:

The defense industry is in nearly unprecedented peril. Congress agreed to cut $350 billion from the defense budget over 10 years as part of the debt ceiling deal, and if the supercommittee fails to agree to a play for $1.2 trillion in overall savings, an additional $600 billion in defense cuts would be automatically triggered. Short of the trigger, the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee could choose to cut military spending, too.

For more charts on defense spending and entitlements, check out Heritage’s 2011 Budget Chart Book. It includes 42 charts on federal spending, revenue, deficit and debt.