Setting The Record Straight On Spending
This week the House of Representatives considered the final fiscal year 2008 Defense spending bill. Rhetoric has been swirling around this issue for months, particularly comments about how the President is spending massive sums of money on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and not funding domestic programs. Some Democratic leaders have even suggested imposing a "war surtax" to fund American operations overseas. Before voters get nervous about a tax hike, I want to come directly to you and set the record straight.
The Defense Appropriations bill spends $459.3 billion to fund the Department of Defense including military healthcare, pay, and equipment. It's an increase of 9.5 percent over last year. This is a lot of money, there's no doubt about it, but it's important to put this number in perspective. Defense spending is higher than it was during the 1990s if the figures are adjusted for inflation. But putting this figure into a bigger picture, our defense spending for 2007 is just over 4 percent of the country's ENTIRE gross domestic product. That's less than half of what it was during the Vietnam War.
In fact, in terms of total spending, defense only accounted for about 20.1 percent of the budget in 2007. That's lower than it was in 1992 when President Clinton took office when defense spending accounted for 21.9 percent of total federal spending. Since Vietnam, President Carter spent the highest percentage of the budget, 24.9 percent for defense in 1978.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, total defense spending is supposed to decrease in the coming years according to current budgetary figures. We are in an age where terrorism is a very real threat, more and more countries are trying to obtain nuclear weapons technology, and we have America's sons and daughters in harm's way. Defending our nation and our people is essential in maintaining a secure America for future generations.
When Democrats start talking about cutting funding for programs like children's healthcare, or education, because troops are in Iraq, look at all the facts. We can fund both. The key is responsible spending and prioritization for both defense and domestic issues. Approaching these issues in a bipartisan manner, looking for solutions rather than divisions, is what we must do to ensure that spending bills pass and all departments and agencies get the funding they need, protecting taxpayers' wallets.