Mitt Romney is campaigning for president on fiscal responsibility. “The mission to restore America begins with getting our fiscal house in order,” he says. At the same time, the presumptive GOP nominee says he wants to increase military spending. His campaign website claims that a President Romney will peg the Pentagon’s budget to Gross Domestic Product “at a floor of 4 percent of GDP.” What will that mean in dollars? CNNMoneyreports that under Romney’s plan, “the additional spending really piles up in future years”:
With the Pentagon’s base budget — which does not include war costs — forecast to hit 3.5% of GDP in 2013, a jump to 4% would mean an increase of around $100 billion dollars in defense spending in 2013. [...]
Compared to the Pentagon’s current budget, Romney’s plan would lead to $2.1 trillion in additional spending over the next ten years, according to an analysis conducted for CNNMoney by Travis Sharp, a budget expert at the Center for a New American Security.
And that number assumes a gradual increase to 4% of GDP. The additional spending would hit $2.3 trillion over a decade if the Pentagon’s budget were to immediately jump to 4% of GDP.
CNN charts the numbers:
And Romney has not said how he’d pay for it. CNN notes that the “lack of detail means that Romney’s claim of moving toward a balanced budget requires a great deal of trust.” On top of increased military spending, Romney plans on expanding on the Bush tax cuts but has also not said how he would pay for them.
Budget experts criticized Romney’s defense plan. Peter Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the plan for additional spending does not “reflect fiscal reality,” while Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said “spending should be determined by the security environment — not the size of your economy.”
“Romney’s plan might reduce military risk in some areas,” Sharp said. “But you can never eliminate all the risk — no matter how much you spend.”
Perhaps Romney will take cues from his friends on the House Republican caucus, who want to cut programs that help the poor to prevent necessary reductions in military spending.