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Blasting sacred cows with an Army howitzer: could cuts in military spending go in place of tax increases?

American soldiers in Afghanistan.
American soldiers in Afghanistan.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

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If nothing else this should tell you that there are members of Congress who are getting serious about cutting the $14+ trillion budget deficit: as deficit negotiations move to the White House and President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner get involved in the high level talks, an unexpected compromise deal is emerging. While everyone assumed that cuts in domestic spending would have to come with increases in revenues—mainly tax increases on the richest Americans and changes in the corporate tax code—some Congressional Republicans are pushing for significant cuts in military spending, going against the conservative archetype of protecting the Pentagon’s budget at all costs. The Pentagon’s overall budget in 2010 was estimated to be a little over $700 billion, when taking Iraq and Afghanistan supplemental spending into account, and all-combined military spending probably exceeds $1 trillion annually; all of which represents a dramatic increase in defense spending, having doubled in the last decade.

Republicans believe that selling its constituents on cuts in defense spending rather than tax increases, within a larger deficit-reduction compromise deal, will be much easier. Democrats are expected to continue pushing for changes in the tax code and tax increases on the wealthy but there are many liberal members of Congress who have attacked the bloated Pentagon spending for years. Would you support dramatic decreases in military spending as a way to cut the deficit, or would you rather support the spending with tax increases?



Mackenzie Eaglen, research fellow for National Security Studies with the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation

Kori Schake, she worked in the National Security Council under President George W. Bush, and she's now a fellow at the Hoover Institution