Voters want to cut defense spending — even when it benefits their districts

July 16, 2012

Ordinary Americans are far more eager to cut defense spending than their representatives in Washington. As I noted a few weeks ago, a survey by the Stimson Center shows they want a 18 percent cut, or a $103.5 billion reduction, compared to President Obama's proposal to cut defense by just 0.7 percent in 2013 and Romney's plan to increase defense spending by 17 percent in 2013. The Stimson Center has dug deeper into its numbers and finds that the appetite among the public for defense cuts might even be stronger than politicos in Washington believe.


Lockheed Martin's F-35B is shown during an unveiling ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas. (Donna McWilliam -- Associated Press)

The center finds that voters in districts with the most defense spending in the country "were no less willing" to cut such spending than those in districts with low defense spending. Three-fourths of voters in the top 10 percent of districts for defense spending want cuts, and they actually favor more cuts than average of voters in the survey, according to the survey, which was jointly conducted by the Stimson Center, the Center for Public Integrity, and the Program for Public Consultation. "The idea that Americans would want to keep total defense spending up so as to preserve local jobs is not supported by the data,” Steven Kull, director of the Program for Public Consultation, said in a statement.

There was, however, a partisan divide: Voters in blue districts wanted bigger defense cuts than those in red districts:


(Stimson Center)

Stimson notes that the biggest partisan discrepancy was in missile defense (blue districts wanted to cut it by 21 percent, red states by 9 percent). There was one area that red districts were slightly more eager to cut, however: They proposed cutting health-care benefits for military families and retirees by $7.4 billion on average, while blue districts wanted to cut them by $6.6 billion. But both types of voters wanted far bigger reductions than either candidate is proposing.

Comments
Show Comments

business

wonkblog

Most Read Business
Next Story
Michelle Williams · July 16, 2012