Now Gingrich wants to bust the budget. The speaker is calling for more military spending. “We have lived off the Reagan buildup as long as we can,” Gingrich testified before the House Budget Committee. “The fact is that our defense structure is getting weaker, our equipment is getting obsolete, our troops are stretched too thin.” Only outlays well above the $270 billion budgeted for next year can ensure “that no one can compete with us.”
What dire circumstances have impelled the speaker to advocate higher military outlays? The cynical observer might point to an extra $2.5 billion to be spent next year for F‐22s and C‐130s, planes that the Air Force doesn’t want but that are partly built in Gingrich’s home state of Georgia.
There’s no other reason to hike defense spending. The U.S. dominates the world as never before. American ideals helped topple the Soviet empire. The U.S. possesses the largest and most productive economy, far outdistancing any rival, as well as undoubted military supremacy. The U.S. accounts for one‐third of the world’s defense outlays and has the most advanced equipment, best variety of forces and largest number of allies. Indeed, the U.S. and its friends are responsible for 80% of world defense spending. Washington’s potential enemies–Cuba, Iraq, North Korea–are pathetic. Possible future rivals like China and Russia are years away from offering effective competition.
For all of the whining about defense “cuts,” all Congress has done is eliminate the Reagan defense buildup. Adjusted for inflation, U.S. military spending is about as much today as it was in 1980, 1975 and 1965. And this is without a war in Vietnam, an antagonistic Soviet Union or a communist ruled Eastern Europe.