We have heard charges from the Romney-Ryan camp that the Obama administration will cut the defense budget while the Obama camp has countered that their opponents are proposing a $2 trillion increase without saying how they will pay for it.
Writing in Foreign Policy, Thomas Ricks takes a look at where these numbers come from. What Ricks shows is that under the Obama plan, defense spending would go up each year, for a total of $5.75 trillion over the next ten years. There are two Romney plans both indexed to GDP in different ways, and the ‘cheaper’ one would result in a total expenditure of $7.81 trillion. Hence the increase of $2 trillion.
One thing to note is that defense budgets are never ‘cut’ in the way that you are I would use that term, in the sense of the numerical value decreasing. They always go up but when adjusted for inflation they can decrease. One must realize, though, that a lot of defense spending is hidden in other places, making it hard to get the exact figure. So one must always take the official figures with a large grain of salt. It is more like a lower limit than an actual figure.
But even with that caveat, if defense expenditures go up by less than some historical baseline expectation of how much they were expected to rise (usually a generous figure), then politicians boast that they have made cuts and the media dutifully reports it as such. Here is a graph that shows defense spending over the last half century,