by Doug Berenson
Cutting defense spending is not necessary to reduce the federal budget deficit and the national debt.
Focusing on defense ignores the central causes of growing deficits and debt: lower tax revenues and expanding entitlement programs.
There is no doubt that the defense budget grew rapidly over the past decade. Between 1990 and 2010, outlays for
But for the goal of containing deficit spending, the defense budget -- and, indeed, all discretionary programs -- is a distraction. The real task is to contain growth in healthcare and entitlement spending, and to increase federal revenue.
Health and Entitlement Spending: Federal outlays grew by over
Other federal healthcare programs, whether for
Whether it is by raising the retirement age, indexing benefits to income level, or some other means, these are the portions of the budget that must be contained to curb the explosion in outlays.
Taxes: On the opposite side of the ledger, federal revenue has declined significantly. In 2010, federal receipts dropped to less than 15 percent of gross domestic product, the lowest level since 1950, according to OMB. (The average level since 1980 is 18 percent.) This decline has been prompted by two factors: the Bush tax cuts of the early 2000s, and the recent period of recession and slow economic growth.
Reasonable people can debate the appropriate level of defense spending. There may be efficiencies to be gained in an agency as sprawling as DoD. But the solution to our growing fiscal peril simply lies elsewhere.
Defense Spending Not to Blame for Deficit | Politics
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