Romney wants defense spending to be much, much higher. The public doesn’t.
There’s a yawning gap between how much the average American wants to cut defense spending in 2013 (18 percent) and how much Washington lawmakers want to cut (zero, or pretty close to it). But the gap between public opinion and Mitt Romney’s plan is much, much bigger.
Travis Sharp, a budget analysis at the Center for a New American Security, ran the numbers based on Romney’s plan for defense spending for CNNMoney and found that the presumptive GOP nominee would increase Pentagon spending in 2013 by $96 billion. That’s about a 17 percent increase over 2012 spending levels—nearly the same amount by which the public wants to decrease the defense budget, according to the Stimson Center’s recent study.
Sharp based his calculation on Romney’s campaign promise to make the base defense budget—discretionary spending that excludes the cost of war in Iraq/Afghanistan—at least 4 percent of GDP every year. By contrast, the Pentagon’s current base budget is 3.3 percent of GDP in 2013, according to the Office of Management and Budget. (To be more precise, Romney’s Pentagon budget covers about 95 percent of total defense spending, but it’s close enough for a ballpark estimate.)
Defense costs would mount up even more quickly in later years: If Romney’s plan were adopted for the next decade, defense spending would increase by $2.1 trillion by 2022, as compared to the Defense Department’s current base budget plan, Sharp tells CNN.