Friday, March 9, 2012

Romney's Plan for Defense Spending

Mitt Romney proposes to spend 4% of expected Gross Domestic Product as the base budget for defense annually, plus whatever additional amount is necessary to fight wars he might chose to get us into.  Christopher Preble is the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute (not exactly a hotbed of liberalism).  Prebel deconstructs the 4% proposal at The National Interest blog.

Key quotes:
Another way to demonstrate the absurdity of Romney’s plan is to control for inflation and compare it to future and past trends. Looking ahead, in constant, 2012 dollars, annual Pentagon spending [under the Romney plan] will average $744.8 billion over the next ten years—again assuming the same GDP projections as Obama’s plan. That is 44 percent higher than Obama’s average budget  . . .
Now consider how this compares with the recent past. . . .  Romney’s 4 percent gimmick would result in taxpayers spending more than twice as much on the Pentagon as in 2000 (111 percent higher, to be precise) and 45 percent more than in 1985, the height of the Reagan buildup. Over the next ten years, Romney’s annual spending (in constant dollars) for the Pentagon would average 64 percent higher than annual post–Cold War budgets (1990-2012), and 42 percent more than the average during the Reagan era (1981-1989).
Mitt Romney may genuinely believe that today’s enemies are 42 percent more frightening than the big bad Soviets. He might believe that spending an average of $450 billion (in constant dollars) every year since 1990 has left the country dangerously vulnerable. If that is true, he should say so. More importantly, however, he should be compelled to answer the question on everyone’s mind: Where is he going to get the money to fund his Pentagon spending binge?
Preble contrasts the attacks by Republicans on welfare dependency here at home, with their acceptance of welfare dependency in the security realm:
I have always been puzzled by the fact that conservatives who rail against welfare dependency here at home miss the pernicious effects of security dependency among our allies. Tim Pawlenty didn’t get it. Neither does Mitt Romney. Rather than questioning the mantras that have guided U.S. foreign policy for over a generation, Romney simply assumes that the United States will remain the world’s policeman, other countries will continue to free ride on our security guarantees and U.S. taxpayers will happily foot the bill. 
This is presumably the kind of analysis that the Koch brothers wants to put an end to by wresting control of the Cato Institute in the courts.

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