National Defense

Mitt Romney's Defense Spending Plan: Bigger, Faster, More


In so many ways, Romney is a blank-slate candidate: He has no strong ideological filter; his issue priorities are determined more or less by poll testing; his policy plans are frequently vague or incomplete, intentionally designed to leave him flexibility to adjust his position down the road.

But there's at least one issue on which he's made a very clear commitment: defense spending. And he wants it to go up. Way up. The defense budget is already scheduled to increase from current spending levels. Yet Romney wants it to rise higher, faster. In fact, he wants to set a floor for defense spending relative to the size of the economy: Romney says the defense spending should consume at least 4 percent of America's total GDP. 

Via The Washington Post's Suzy Khimm and CNNMoney, here's Center for a New American Security analyst Travis Sharp's look at how defense spending would shift under Romney's 4 percent minimum:

In 2013 alone, Romney's defense spending minimum would result in a hike of about $96 billion. As Khimm notes, "That's about a 17 percent increase over 2012 spending levels—nearly the same amount by which the public wants to decrease the defense budget, according to the Stimson Center's recent study."

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  1. McCain would’ve been better.

    1. What exactly would Mr. “Me Too” McCain be better than?

      1. I didn’t think that mattered. I thought the answer to all our problems was wishful thinking about the road not taken.

  2. Oh, sure. That’s what we need. Bigger spending.

  3. Exactly what will this vast military be doing? Other than enriching contractors, of course.

    It really doesn’t make any sense to start with budget cuts/increases in defense. You need to start with the mission, and then see what you need to make that work.

    For a “world police” mission, no budget is big enough. For a “defend the US” mission, I suspect you could cut 1/3 from the current budget.

    1. For a “world police” mission, no budget is big enough.

      This is why we need to ramp up spending as fast as possible. I don’t know why he feels we need to increase spending that much either.

    2. You need to start with the mission

      Romney’s mission statement in his New Hampshire speech:

      I believe a strong America must, and will, lead the future.

      He doesn’t see the need for overwhelming American military superiority.

      I will insist on a military so powerful no one would think of challenging it.

      1. That’s not a mission. What, exactly, will this military be doing?

        I could easily cut the budget by 1/3 and still have overwhelming superiority (for defending the US) with a military so powerful no country would think of attacking the US. And that would leave us with plenty of “force projection” via the Navy and Air Force.

        1. Wait, wait, wait! Are you telling me it’s inconceivable that any nation or coalition of them would be able to best the US Navy on the high seas, establish air superiority over the western hemisphere, and transport an army large, well trained, and equipped advanced enough to conquer and subjugate the the mainland US, let alone find the endeavor lucrative even at a fraction of current US spending levels? You must hate freedom.

  4. I could get behind the idea of a floor in defense spending, as long as there was also a cap that could only be waived in times of a congressionally declared war.

    Course I would put the floor at 1% of GDP and the cap at 2%.

    1. I’ll accept Mittens’ 4% as long as it’s 4% (GDP – National Debt).

      1. Lol and 4% of nothing is what?

        1. Yeah, exactly, maybe he knows something about future GDP the CNAS doesn’t know.

  5. This alone throws me against Romney.

    Defense spending has become the latest “but it’s for the children you monster!!!” feel-good spending program that looks increasingly like a jobs program for retired colonels and generals.

    1. On the news radio station here in the Washington DC area, every single commercial is for some kind of defense-related IT contractor. The amount of money sloshing around the defense and intelligence apparatus is mind-boggling.

  6. Does he know about our massive debt and unfunded liabilities problem? It doesn’t sound like it. Maybe someone on his campaign team or a debate moderator will eventually get around to telling him. Maybe some opposition research will see that he’s clueless on the subject and run an ad.

    1. Well in fairness defense spending and unfunded liabilities are only tangentally related. If we were to somehow fix the entitlement problems we have then it is not at all inconcievable that we could sustain 4% or even 6% of GDP in military spending without running deficits.

      True spending like that would necessarily constrain other budgetary priorities as well as guarantee a far larger and more expensive government than most here would be comfortable with but it is not impossible in the way that Obama’s budget priorities are.

  7. In Romney’s defense, almost anything he says to get elected might be total horseshit. So we’ll have to elect him to see whats in the bill.

  8. It is probably moot what Mitt wants to spend on defense, as economic reality will ultimately come to bear. I suspect he knows this and is just trying to appease defense hawks.

    A more responsible thing for him to say is that we’re looking at budget cuts across the board. This may be obvious to libertarians (and small government conservatives), but unfortunately I think a great many people still don’t get this. There seems to be a “normalcy bias”, a sense that things can just keep going on without change, or sacrifice.

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