Americans Favor Military Cuts

A new poll shows Americans favor defense spending cuts. Such a move would hit the pivot to the Pacific.

An overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens want deep and immediate cuts in military spending, according to a new poll. The Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C.-based investigative news service, in conjunction with two other groups asked more than 600 Americans from across the country about their perceptions regarding U.S. defense spending. The survey went on to ask whether the respondent favored increasing, holding steady or decreasing military spending.   

Seventy-six percent of survey-takers, including 90 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans, say they would cut the Pentagon's budget. That places the majority of respondents at odds with Democratic President Barack Obama's policies and the proposed budgets of the majority Republican Party in Congress. Obama has essentially held defense spending steady at around $550 billion by cutting its recent rate of increase. The Republicans have proposed adding billions of dollars to the president's budget.

War costs – currently totaling around $100 billion a year – are budgeted separately from the military’s “base” budget.

The popular position, if reflected in actual spending, would jeopardize military initiatives that enjoy broad support among elected leaders in both political parties, including: the Pentagon's aerial and naval “pivot” towards the Pacific; the deployment of sea- and land-based missile defenses; and the development of new war technology including new stealth bombers and fighters, drone aircraft, submarines and aircraft carriers.

But events could bring budgetary reality in line with the poll respondents’ desires. Last year, Congress passed, and the president signed, the Budget Control Act, which requires $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over the coming decade. If Congress and the president don’t agree on what programs to cut, the reductions will occur automatically across all federal agencies. That could slice hundreds of billions of dollars from the Pentagon’s future budgets.