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article imageOp-Ed: Romney plan would add $2 trillion to defense over a decade

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By Ken Hanly     Oct 9, 2012 in Politics
Washington - Even though Romney runs on a platform that stresses reduced spending, lower deficits, and financial responsiblity, in the area of defense, his plans would result in over $2 trillion added to the defense budget over a decade, according to one estimate.
An analysis by Travis Sharp, a budget expert from the Center for New American Security, done for CNN Money, shows that over ten years Romney's plan would add an additional $2.1 trillion in defense spending. In 2013 alone, the plan would add an additional $100 billion.
Romney's plan would link defense spending to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Romney thinks that 4% of GDP should be spent on defense. In 2013 the U.S. defense budget is forecast to hit 3.5% of GDP. If a half percent were added to reach 4%, this would increase U.S. defense spending by about $100 billion. If the expenditure were to jump immediately to 4% of GDP, Sharp estimates that this would increase spending by $2.3 trillion over the decade. Romney would gradually introduce spending increases to 4%, so the amount over a decade would be somewhat less.
Sharp said the U.S. certainly could ramp up spending so as to meet Romney's goal, but the cost might not be worth it. Sharp says:"Romney's plan might reduce military risk in some areas. But you can never eliminate all the risk -- no matter how much you spend." Romney admits that increasing military spending has its own costs:"This will not be a cost-free process. We cannot rebuild our military strength without paying for it."
Romney proposes a number of tax cuts, yet he plans to cap federal spending at 20% of GDP. With no details of how he will move to a balanced budget, it is not at all clear how he could accomplish this. Jeffrey Vanke, a policy analyst at the Committee for a Reponsbile Federal Budget says:"Romney has listed a few specific cuts he would make in discretionary spending, but they are a fraction of the extra defense spending he proposes."
The 4% idea is not new.The former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, endorsed the idea, and conservatives have sometimes used the slogan 4% for freedom. However the idea is critcized by many analysts including Sharp. Todd Harrison from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments said:"Spending should be determined by the security environment --not the size of your economy."
Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said:
"These artificial ways to decide the defense budget make no sense. And if you pursue this, how are you going to balance the budget?"
Obama has made cuts to the defense budget but this has only had the effect of slowing its growth. The budget will still grow over the next few years. However, the Republicans would like to reverse even this slowing down of Pentagon growth and invest even more in the military-industrial complex.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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