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Defense Spending When It Matters

Our leaders are cutting back on defense, even in the midst of a war in Afghanistan and ongoing terrorist threats. Protecting our nation is one of the few jobs specifically assigned to the federal government by the Constitution, yet Washington is too busy spending billions on car companies and bank bailouts to prioritize our men and women in uniform.

Adequate Defense Spending: 4% for Freedom

For three years, The Heritage Foundation has been advocating the “4 percent for Freedom” solution as national defense policy. This 10-year commitment would affirm the principle that the regular defense budget, through which the government prepares and sustains the American military (not including the cost of ongoing conflicts like Afghanistan), should be at least 4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Heritage believes that our leaders should commit to spending at least one out of every 25 dollars of America’s wealth each year on national defense.

Ensuring a robust defense and a strong military should not be controversial. Many Americans believe the federal government already spends much more than 4 percent of GDP on the military. After all, the United States government’s first priority is supposed to be defending the nation; therefore, that obligation should have the first claim on taxpayer dollars. Moreover, the government historically has spent far more on defense as a percentage of GDP than Heritage is now advocating as a floor. The average defense budget since World War II has been over 5 percent of GDP.

Protecting Against Todays Threats

Maintaining a commitment to fund the defense budget at sufficient levels for the next five to 10 years is even more compelling now than it was when first proposed because of the numerous threats America faces today:

  • China has opened a huge nuclear submarine base and is acquiring carrier-killer missiles while Iran gets closer to nuclear status every day.
  • Russia invaded Georgia last December and relations continue to be hostile.
  • North Korea is developing a longer-range missile and has recently had harsh words for America.
  • The bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction unanimously found last December that terrorists would have nuclear or bioweapons within five years.
  • Our neighbors in northern Mexico are growing closer to anarchy because of drug cartels.

Now is the time for Congress to restate the need for adequate funding for national defense. The current condition of the American military demands no less than a defense budget of 4 percent of GDP if the United States is to maintain the qualitative superiority of its military. Sign The Heritage Foundations petition to President Barack Obama asking him to restore defense spending to protect America.

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