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Trends in Defense Spending January 22, 2010

Posted by Rebecca Williams in Analysis.
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The Project on Defense Alternatives (PDA) released two reports this week on long-term trends in defense spending and the current fiscal dilemma:

An Undisciplined Defense: Understanding the $2 Trillion Surge in US Defense Spending

This report analyzes the unprecedented post-1998 rise in defense spending and the return to Cold War budget levels. The report explains the processes that contributed to the exceptional rise in defense spending and illustrates how the allocation of defense funds has fundamentally changed over the past 20 years.  The report also examines the surge in military construction and the expanded role of private contractors.

The following chart from the report demonstrates the significant growth in DOD budget authority over the years, including war costs.

The President’s Dilemma: Debt, Deficits, and Defense Spending

This brief but timely report explains that the US faces Reagan-level deficit spending and greatly increased debt. This report puts recent and planned defense spending into the context of emerging fiscal constraints and President Obama’s broader program of change.

One of the most informative charts from this report compares the budgets for DOD, other National Defense functions, and International Affairs across six presidencies.  The report explains that while the Obama administration plans to allot a greater share to International Affairs than any administration since President Jimmy Carter’s, the overall impression is that the levels of planned Obama spending cluster most closely with those of his immediate predecessor, George W.Bush.



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