Dueling Defense Charts: Cato Wins; Heritage Loses


Over at the Cato Institute, David Boaz handily debunks a Heritage Foundation chart—shown below—allegedly demonstrating that defense spending has dropped to its lowest level in 60 years in our great nation.

heritage defense spending

But Boaz pulls out a Cato chart showing that Pentagon spending in real, inflation-adjusted dollars has roughly doubled since 2000 and is up about 50 percent since 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War—not including the cost of the ongoing wars.


So what's going on? Why the difference in the charts? Boaz explains:

The Heritage chart, of course, focuses on Pentagon spending as a percentage of the federal budget. And what has happened to the federal budget in the past 40 years? Well, as it happens, another Heritage shows that pretty clearly:


Asks Boaz:

Does the Heritage Foundation really want to suggest that when spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid rises, military spending should rise commensurately? That when President Bush creates a trillion-dollar Medicare prescription drug entitlement, he should also add a trillion dollars to the Pentagon budget to keep "Defense Spending as a Percentage of the Federal Budget" at its previous level?

 What's more:

If total federal spending in 1820 was $19.4 million, and 53 percent of it was for defense, what that tells us is that the federal government was wonderfully small in the early years of the Republic.


Reason.tv's video explaining "3 Reasons Why We Should Cut Defense Spending Now" here.