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Disconnect: Public Wants Cuts in Defense Spending; Democratic and Republican Leaders Don’t

By Matt Bewig | AllGov | July 23, 2012

Americans want a Peace Dividend, but their leaders won’t give it to them. Despite multiple polls showing broad support for cuts in U.S. defense spending, a sort of anti-democratic bipartisanship has emerged in Washington, where both Republicans and Democrats oppose such cuts, often vocally.

The most recent polling data on the issue, released last week by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC), in conjunction with the Center for Public Integrity and the Stimson Center, shows that Americans believe defense spending should shrink next year by a fifth to a sixth of its present size. Other polls released during 2012, including surveys by Gallup, Roper, and others, have been similar, although variations have occurred.

The issue has arisen this summer because, under a budget compromise reached last year between Democrats and Republicans, 10% across the board cuts are set to kick in at the beginning of 2013, which would give the Department of Defense a budget next year of $470 billion—an amount it got by on during the George W. Bush administration while the U.S. was fully engaged in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Nevertheless, both Republicans and some Democrats in Congress oppose these spending reductions, and former Vice President Dick Cheney recently emerged to lobby Congress against them, joined by representatives of Lockheed Martin Corp., who warned of thousands of layoffs if the cuts occur.

Lockheed Martin, the largest arms merchant in the world, is eager to keep filling up from the taxpayers’ money spigot. With annual revenues of about $45 billion, it invests its profits in influence, especially in Washington, where since 1989 Lockheed has donated $23 million to political campaigns, spent $125 million on lobbying; received $20 million in earmarks; received 31 grants and 15,358 contracts from the federal government; and placed 257 of their people on 135 government advisory committees.

The economic impact of defense cuts, especially on jobs, is one of the main reasons otherwise moderate or liberal Democrats oppose defense cuts, reasoning that the recession-ravaged economy cannot sustain a significant spending cut. Yet according to the PPC poll the public, even when provided information about the possible economic consequences of defense spending reductions, still opts for them over cuts to domestic programs like Social Security, health care, or education. Further, people in congressional districts with high defense spending supported defense cuts as readily as those in other districts, although Democrats generally supported larger cuts than Republicans.

“The idea that Americans would want to keep total defense spending up so as to preserve local jobs is not supported by the data,” said PPC director Steven Kull. On average, Democrats supported a Pentagon cut of 22%, while Republicans wanted a cut of 12%.

July 24, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Poll: 76% of Americans favor cutting military spending

Press TV – July 17, 2012

The results of a new survey indicate that most Americans, from both Democratic and Republican congressional districts, support the reduction of the country’s military spending.

The result of the poll, published on July 16, indicated that 76 percent of Americans favored slashing of the defense budget, while only 20 percent approved of increasing the military spending.

The poll was conducted by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC), a newly-established joint program at the University of Maryland, US-based nonprofit investigative journalism organization, the Center for Public Integrity, and the Stimson Center, a nonprofit global security think tank.

According to Steven Kull, the director of the PPC, those respondents, who lived in Republican districts advised a 15-percent reduction in defense spending, while those from Democratic districts proposed an average 28-percent cut.

The poll further showed that the main reason behind the American citizens’ support for the cuts is their strong belief that a large amount of the military budget goes to waste.

The view is held by 80 percent of the participants in Republican districts and 86 percent of the respondents in Democratic districts, the study showed.

The soaring military spending comes despite the Obama administration’s cuts in public spending to compensate for the budget deficit.

The US has reportedly spent over USD one trillion in taxpayer money on its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.

July 17, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment