Recalibrating the Defense Budget

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Pollster Scott Rasmussen says the planets may be coming into alignment for deeper cuts in defense spending than are already being discussed. Writing in the latest issue of Reason, a libertarian magazine, he argues that it’s time to mesh military outlays with public opinion.

Trouble is, he says, too many Americans have no idea how much the military costs each year; he pegs it at $900 billion, when veterans’ care is added to the tab. “…just 33 percent [of U.S. voters] recognize that Washington spends roughly as much on defense as the rest of the world combined,” he writes. “Military spending has grown disproportionately compared to Americans’ own priorities, dwarfing other countries in ways that could soon make taxpayers blink.”

It’s a big investment, he says, for a rather meager return:

Today we face no rival superpower with massive military capabilities and aggressive ambitions. Threats of terrorism and cyberwarfare are real but stem mostly from small cells, rather than large blocs of countries. Still, defense spending questions are hard to discuss because most Americans hold a jumble of conflicting emotions and perceptions that cloud the debate and shift the focus to almost everything except money…

Aligning U.S. military strategy with public opinion would save trillions of dollars during the coming decade and dramatically reduce the debt burden we are imposing on future generations. This important realignment would put us in a better position to deal with the serious economic challenges facing the nation and reaffirm the bedrock American notion that governments derive their only just authority from the consent of the governed.

Full thing here.