Mitt Romney

Where in the World Will Mitt Romney Get the Money to Fund His Promised Increase in Defense Spending?


GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney likes to give speeches in front a big banner that reads "cut the spending." But he remains coy about what he wants to see cut, and there's one major part of the budget that he says he'd actually like to see increased significantly: defense spending.

Romney has not only not promised to cap military spending, he's consistently touted his promise to subject the military budget to a mandatory minmum equal to 4 percent of GDP, which would make the Pentagon budget 0.7 points higher than the defense spending baseline under President Obama. Where's he going to get the money for a big spending increase? The best answer is: He's probably not going to get it from anywhere.

Cato's Christopher Preble points to a Defense News article making the obvious point: Even if you can make the numbers add up, the politics don't.

Yet combined with his commitment to cut taxes and reduce the national debt, Romney's pledge to grow the defense budget appears politically impossible, if technically doable, according to defense budget experts.

"If you put all of the promises together, it doesn't all add up," said Todd Harrison, a senior fellow for defense budget studies at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

"The administration may change, but the math remains the same," Harrison said. "If you want to increase spending on defense over the next decade and reduce the deficit, then that necessarily means sharp reductions in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid or sharp increases in taxes, or some combination of the two. But those are the major components you have to work with within the budget."

Over the past decade, the U.S. government borrowed to increase spending, including money to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and larger base budgets at the Pentagon.

According to Preble's calculations, Romney's spending floor would require a 42 percent increase in defense spending compared to the Reagan era and a 64 percent increase over average annual budgets post Cold War. All together, the requirement would add $2.58 trillion over the next decade's current baseline. That's an even bigger challenge given Romney's other commitments. He has variously promised to cap overall government spending as a percentage of GDP, not cut Medicare, and not raise taxes. How might all of these promises fit together? Romney won't say, admitting that his budget plan can't be scored. Independent analysts that have tried to score his proposals suggest it will increase the debt over the next decade.

The 4 percent spending floor is the sort of policy gimmick that suggests that Romney doesn't take spending or budgeting seriously. He and his campaign just throw out ideas because they think it's what people want to hear. It's absurd to think that these sorts of increases in defense spending are at all necessary. And it's just as absurd to think that they're even remotely plausible given the political climate and the rest of Romney's stated policy commitments. 

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  1. Honest Mitt is pandering to voters by telling them what they want to hear with an implausible set of policy prescriptions?

    That’s unpossible! It’s such a sea change from his days at the apex of Massachusetts politics!

    1. that’s the result of mittens selling his mormon soul to become a “sever conservative”

  2. Yes we must spend more then 4% GDP on defense so that we can defend our allies who spend 2% GDP or less on defense to defend them against the terrorists who spends pocket change while watching the US bankrupt itself and against the Chinese who will lend the US at interest the money to spend on defense.

  3. It’s incredibly easy. Cut out Obamacare and end all welfare for lazy welfare queens, waste, fraud, and abuse, and you can double the defense budget.

    1. Oh, and foreign aid, which people seem to believe makes up something like 5% of our total budget.

    2. How about also cutting defense welfare for US “allies” who spend less then 2% GDP on defense?

      The US could easily defend itself with half the money now spent on ‘”defense’.

      1. No no no, the object is to increase defense spending. You’re obviously not a very good conservative.

  4. Where in the World Will Mitt Romney Get the Money to Fund His Promised Increase in Defense Spending?

    Why do you hate American children, Suderman?

  5. If elected, Romney will do what Reagan did: cut taxes, boost defense, and run a huge deficit, about which he will be mad as heck.

  6. The Brain: Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?
    Pinky: Umm, I think so Brain, but what if the chicken won’t wear the nylons?

    1. The day that Pinky and the Brain was cancelled was the day that freedom died in America.

      If two genetically modified mice can’t plot to take over the world then we have all lost our freedom to dream.

      1. Narf!

      2. That was a pretty good era for cartoons. Animaniacs and Histeria alone make it better than the crap that the kids are watching these days.

        1. That was the best era for cartoons in the short while I have lived on this earth.

        2. Let we forget that classic show “Doug”?

    2. Random as Hell? Check!
      Obscure, Short Lived, Cartoon from Late 90’s? Check!
      Pertinent to the Conversation? Check!

  7. These are approximately mandatory slogans needed to get “conservatives” to vote for you. Don’t attach significance to them. The important thing is that they’re not committed socialists.

  8. Holy shit Suderman, I have tears in my eyes from trying to literally not LOL at that first alt-text.

  9. He’ll get it the same place all the other money comes from:

    (1) taxes.
    (2) debt.
    (3) printing.

    This isn’t a big mystery.

  10. compassionate conservative = anti-abortion liberal

  11. This bothers me because I kinda want to vote against Obama (for Romney) in the general, but It wouldn’t be worth it if he actually did that. I see the extortion racket that is the US Military-Industrial Complex as just about one of the most vile scams in history. Fun facts:
    US annual defense spending is higher than the combined annual defense spending the rest of the world’s top 10 spenders.
    47% of the money spent on militaries in the world is spent by the US.
    The US annual defense budget is almost as high as the annual GDP of the entire continenet of Africa.

    1. I never see an option to “vote against Candidate” on my ballot.

      1. If I don’t see a guy I like (r=99.9%), I write in none of the above.

  12. You know who else pandered to voters by telling them what they wanted to hear with an implausible set of policy prescriptions?

    1. Every head of state since history began?

  13. What the fuck did I do to get a “Wish Elizabeth Warren ‘Happy Birthday'” ad?

  14. But don’t you see? When the other team spends more, the deficit will increase, but when our team spends more, the magic fiscal fairy will poof the money into existence.

    1. Our team?

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