MFAN Partner: Include the Defense Budget in a Plan to Control the Debt

The Debt Reduction Task Force urges the federal government to deal with the national debt by slashing the budget, which includes defense spending. But the importance of defense spending cuts is usually unrecognized and often overlooked. Alice M. Rivlin, a member of the President’s Debt Commission, makes the case for cuts to the defense budget in a blog post, which first appeared on MFAN Partner the Stimson Center’s “The Will and the Wallet.” See excerpts from her argument below:

“The fundamental point is that failure to rein in rising debt poses  enormous risk to our economic vitality and national security in the near term, and avoiding potential catastrophe requires major efforts to limit all spending to the highest priorities and greatest needs—as well as raising additional revenue. We cannot afford non-essential spending for any broad purpose—health or education or defense—until we get our federal budget back on a sustainable track.”

“Slowing the rate of growth of entitlement spending, especially for health care, is essential to stabilizing future debt, but cannot bear the whole burden. Fortunately, there are substantial opportunities, both on the domestic and defense sides of the budgets to rethink priorities and spend money more effectively. No one can deny that there is enormous inertia and significant waste in the defense budget, especially, but not exclusively, in the contracting process. We have an obligation, in the face of the dangers of a debt crisis, to make sure the taxpayers’ dollars are well spent and that we are radically reducing the extent to which spending for weapons systems and military facilities are driven political power and industrial advocacy.”

“The rationale for including defense spending in a deficit reduction exercise has invoked the concept of shared sacrifice—everyone contributing in the face of shared danger. I prefer to think of it a shared opportunity—subjecting all spending, defense and domestic, to more rigorous tests for efficiency and effectiveness.”

To read the full post click here.

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