News Release

Majority Favors Cutting Military Budget


Discretionary Spending Areas (Billions of Dollars)

STEVEN KULL, skull at
Kull is director of the Program for Public Consultation, a joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes and the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and lead author of the recently released study “Consulting the American People on National Defense Spending.”

He said today: “Three quarters of respondents favored cutting defense as a way to reduce the deficit, including two thirds of Republicans as well as nine in ten Democrats. …

“Other polls on defense spending have mostly asked simply whether respondents favor or oppose defense cuts, and generally found smaller numbers favoring cuts. This suggests that Americans generally underestimate the size of the defense budget and that when they receive balanced information about its size they are more likely to cut it to reduce the deficit. …

“The area cut by the greatest percentage was nuclear weapons, which respondents reduced an average of 27 percent (Republicans 18 percent, Democrats 35 percent). The area that was cut the most in dollar terms was for existing ground force capabilities which was cut an average of $36.2 billion (Republicans $23.8 billion, Democrats $44.5 billion) or 23 percent.

“What is striking is that it appears that the American people, unlike Congress, are able to thoughtfully recognize the validity of arguments both for and against cutting defense spending and still come to hard and even bold decisions.

“Eight in ten favored cutting the Obama administration’s proposed budget of $88 billion for 2013 war spending in Afghanistan. Overall, on average it was cut 40 percent or $35 billion.”

Note: Respondents were queried about “defense” spending, not “military” spending, which likely would have drawn even less support.