Defense Spending is Not the Problem

Baker Spring /

Speaking at the Eisenhower Library in Kansas on May 8th, Secretary Gates stated the following: “Given America’s difficult economic circumstances and parlous fiscal condition, military spending on things large and small can and should expect closer, harsher scrutiny.”

Left unexamined, Secretary Gates’ statement would lead the average American to conclude that it is defense spending that is bankrupting the federal government and threatens to bankrupt the country. In fact, it is Secretary Gates’ statement that deserves closer, harsher scrutiny. While the fiscal condition of the government, as Secretary Gates contends, is parlous, it is wrong to assume that the defense budget is the source of this problem. From the historical perspective, the share of both federal spending and the overall economy committed to defense activities is down significantly from the levels seen in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. (more…)