In the last three years -- with a
budget surplus in Washington -- non-defense domestic discretionary
spending has skyrocketed. Defense spending has suffered because of
this. Three graphics found on this page examine federal outlays
from three perspectives: discretionary spending on defense;
discretionary spending on non-defense; and mandatory
This year's budget surplus is estimated to be $158 billion (the Congressional Budget Office numbers
will be released August 28). This surplus is the second largest in
Despite this many lawmakers are tying increases in defense spending
to raiding of the Social Security surplus. "Nonsense," said Daniel
Mitchell at a Heritage Foundation media briefing, and you can read
more in his new paper,
Ten Deceptive Myths About Social Security, The Budget and the
Mitchell's comments, excerpted in The Washington Post's "
For the Record
," focused on budget and spending issues. Citing
historical numbers from the Office of Management and Budget,
Mitchell said defense spending has hovered around $300 billion a
year -- adjusted for inflation -- except twice: just prior to
W.W.II and in the 1970s before Ronald Reagan took office. It is
down again, and has been dropping for the last decade.
"At not time did Roosevelt or Reagan say 'Well we can't do what's
best for our country because we'll go into deficit,'" Mitchell
said. Besides the fact that "the trust fund contains nothing but
IOUs--government bonds that represent nothing more than a claim on
future generations."These IOUs have value, but only in the sense
that future politicians can "redeem" the bonds by collecting more
tax revenue, reducing spending, and/or issuing new debt to the
public. These bonds do not reflect real savings."
Baker Spring and Jack Spencer, both
Heritage defense analysts, delivered comments at the briefing on
the importance of funding military programs.
Spencer explained how the military is still relying on weapons
systems bought in the 1980s, and President Bush's request for $18
billion is a "bare bones request just to stop the decline."
Spring went into depth addressing missile defense spending. Current
requests for missile defense spending stand at $8.3 billion for
2002, just 2.5 percent of the defense budget. "In the scope of the
debate, it's much smaller than that," Spring said. "It is less than
half a percent of the federal budget."
Just last week, for example, a House Committee voted down an
amendment - by only one vote-- that would have stripped $1 billion
from the request. Spring further outlined the rationale for the
investment, "We need to consider what we're supposed to defend.
What is the cost of an American city? The lives of all the citizens
at risk? What is the price you could put on that?"