News Release

Military Spending Claims Draw Fire

WASHINGTON — Projections for the Pentagon budget by one of the nation’s most prominent think tanks drew criticism today from several specialists in military spending.

The Heritage Foundation’s new report, “Current Budget Priorities May Have Serious Defense Consequences,” was faulted for its claim that by 2020, “the downward trend in defense would result in the virtual elimination of defense spending.”

Among those available for comment are:

WILLIAM D. HARTUNG
A Senior Fellow of the World Policy Institute at the New School for Social Research, Hartung said: “A similar projection based on the first four years of the Reagan military buildup would no doubt have shown that if those trends had continued, the entire discretionary budget of the U.S. government would have been going to the Pentagon by the year 2002.” He added: “The real purpose of Heritage’s ill-conceived piece of propaganda is to convince us that the Pentagon is a budget orphan that is somehow being starved to death in the post-Cold War period. To this, I would simply respond by saying, ‘Read my lips — the military budget is not an entitlement program.'”

SCOTT NATHANSON
Acting Director of Demilitarization for Democracy, Nathanson asked: “How can U.S. defense spending be struggling if we outspend all of the budgets of our `potential enemies’ combined?” Nathanson noted: “While many U.S. troops actually have to use food stamps to feed their families, we are spending $80 billion over the next five years on the F-22 fighter jet despite the fact that our current fighters are by far the best in the world. To add insult to injury, Lockheed-Martin has already asked for an export license for the F-22 despite the fact that according to their own promotional brochure, it was the transfer of U.S. fighter jets all over the world that gave rise to the necessity for the F-22 in the first place.”

MICHAEL CLOSSON
Executive Director of the Center for Economic Conversion, Closson said: “What we should have is a serious assessment of our real defense needs rather than view them as an arbitrary percentage of the budget. There are valid reasons for budgetary decline — the Cold War is over. Non-defense spending should take up more of the budget.”

CARL CONETTA
Conetta, a senior analyst with the Commonwealth Institute, noted that recent Pentagon spending is “comparable to that for the period 1973-1981.” Heritage does not take into account the demise of the USSR — or the “defection of other key former members of the Warsaw Pact.”

For more information, contact Theresa Caldwell or Sam Husseini at the Institute for Public Accuracy, (202) 347-0020.