The Public Wants to Spend Less on Defense

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National surveys have long confirmed a stubborn public unwillingness to cut federal spending (aside from foreign aid, which people always think is much larger than it really is). Generally speaking, people support budget cuts in the abstract but oppose them when it comes to cutting specific programs.

But a recent survey pinpoints one area that’s exactly the opposite: defense spending. Not only are large numbers of both Democrats and Republicans willing to cut the Pentagon’s budget, but it turns out that once you get into the weeds they’re even more willing to cut it:

Interestingly, when given the opportunity to specify their exact proposed level, a substantially larger  percentage made cuts than had said they would in the earlier question which offered them three approaches to dealing with the deficit (see above). In the earlier question, 62% had said they thought Congress should reduce defense spending. Among the 38% who did not select the option of cutting defense, when given the option to specify the number, half of them gave a number below 2012 levels and thus a made a cut.

….For the whole sample, the average proposed level of spending was $435 billion — $127 billion below 2012 levels, representing a 23% cut. Among Republicans, the average proposed level was down $83 billion (a 15% cut); among Democrats, it was down $155 billion (a 28% cut); and among independents it was down $147 billion (a 26% cut).

I don’t imagine this will make much difference to our elected representatives, especially since I suspect that the strength of the public’s budget cutting fervor is low. It’s also likely to melt in the face of Pentagon assurances that Iran could launch a missile at New York City just as soon as they can get a ship within 600 miles of New York City. Still, this is how the public feels, and it doesn’t get much attention. Maybe it should.

Via Suzy Khimm, who has more details.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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