Wilson Editorial: Funding Our Military Must Be A Top Priority

Apr 3, 2015

Providing for our national defense is the primary function of our federal government, and I am concerned President Obama’s policies are reducing our defense capabilities during a time America is facing significant threats. Our national security provides for the safety of our citizens at home by stopping aggression overseas where safe havens are established to plan terrorist attacks on American families. I support a strengthened defense budget because we cannot afford to shortchange our military. As Congress debates over increasingly constrained federal budgets, it is critical that we maintain defense funding as a top priority.

Our defense funding and military power is determined by various factors, including our economic policies, our allies’ contributions to global defense spending, and the threats throughout the world. Our economic policies help determine the appropriate amount of our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) to spend on defense. Mandatory spending – including entitlements that promote dependency – continues to grow unabated, eclipsing even modest increases in defense spending. Eighty-five percent of the projected growth in federal spending over the next decade is due to entitlement spending and interest on the national debt. Although the Administration could reduce spending in alternative areas, defense budgets have taken disproportionately high cuts. In 2014, U.S. defense spending was 3.5 percent of GDP, while mandatory spending accounted for 14.3 percent of GDP. With the critical importance of national defense, we must stop this raid on defense funding.

Our allies’ contributions toward global defense spending play a critical role in determining our defense investment and military capabilities. Faster foreign growth has reduced the U.S. share of global defense spending, which decreases our ability to apply diplomatic pressure to our enemies. In 1995, the U.S., NATO, Japan, South Korea, Israel, and Saudi Arabia accounted for a formidable 75 percent of global defense spending. From 2005 to 2010, the U.S. and its allies’ share of total defense spending fell significantly. It is projected to fall below 60% by 2016. As this percentage declines, sadly, leaders like Russia’s Vladimir Putin will continue to maneuver in areas where they can assume greater risk, which is against the interest of the Russian people.

In addition to these concerns, our nation’s defense spending fails to meet the levels needed to guarantee our military superiority. As equipment and technology rapidly advance, we are unable to keep pace with the latest technological innovations. Currently, funds are being deviated from new developments and research for future breakthroughs to fund basic operations. Given that defense spending may be inadequate based on the capabilities of our nation’s adversaries, we must be prepared to adjust our budget to meet future challenges.

It is possible to increase defense spending, while seeking deficit reduction in other areas that do not include the President’s proposed tax increases. Eliminating fraud, waste, and abuse in federal programs is just one way to do that; many more exist. As a nation, we must change course to protect American families from terrorists who threaten our citizens and our survival as a free nation. 


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