The National Priorities Project, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary and was nominated for the 2014 Noble Peace Prize, has earned distinction for being “the people’s guide to the federal budget.” The Project’s website is packed full of useful information and resources, but its Federal Budget 101 is the most concise yet informative guide to budget basics I have seen.
Robert Golan-Vilella, of the National Interest, responds to Melvyn Leffler’s argument in the recent issue of Foreign Affairs that cutting defense spending will actually improve security because “when the government is operating under constrained resources, it is forced to make more difficult choices and prioritize more effectively …”
[I]f one wants to make the case for cutting defense spending now, the best arguments for doing so are those that stem from long-range thinking rather than asserting that the cuts themselves will spur better planning. Such an argument might run like this: The United States is a very secure country. It dominates its own hemisphere. It spends more on its military than the next ten countries combined—and many of those countries are its allies. America has adversaries, but its rival great powers are far less dangerous than those of the past. Thus, there is room to cut the U.S. defense budget to right-size it to the threats it actually faces, while still enabling it to maintain preponderant military strength. The money saved could then be used to accomplish any number of other national priorities.
Whether or not you find this line of thinking persuasive, the point is that it starts with an assessment of what the world and the international threat environment actually look like. . . . [Continue reading]