Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, accompanied by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, outlines the main areas of proposed spending cuts during a news conference at the Pentagon, Thursday, Jan., 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
A new survey out today shows that the general public would like to cut America’s defense budget significantly more than Congress or the Obama administration – and that includes Americans in both political parties.
The findings are based on a national survey conducted by the Center for Public Integrity, the Program for Public Consultation, and the Stimson Center. The sample size was 665.
R. Jeffrey Smith, managing editor for national security at the Center for Public Integrity, writing in The Atlantic:
According to the survey, in which respondents were told about the size of the budget as well as shown expert arguments for and against spending cuts, two-thirds of Republicans and nine in 10 Democrats supported making immediate cuts -- a position at odds with the leaderships of both political parties.
The average total cut was around $103 billion, a substantial portion of the current $562 billion base defense budget, while the majority supported cutting it at least $83 billion. These amounts both exceed a threatened cut of $55 billion at the end of this year under so-called "sequestration" legislation passed in 2011, which Pentagon officials and lawmakers alike have claimed would be devastating.
"When Americans look at the amount of defense spending compared to spending on other programs, they see defense as the one that should take a substantial hit to reduce the deficit," said Steven Kull, director of the Program for Public Consultation and the lead developer of the survey. "Clearly the polarization that you are seeing on the floor of the Congress is not reflective of the American people.
The survey's release was well-timed given that Republicans and Democrats continue to battle over a variety of spending cuts, including national defense, as they seek to balance the federal budget. Just today, House Republicans passed a bill that would reduce spending on programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and portions of the health care law, as a way to avoid expected cuts to the defense budget.