President Barack Obama and leading Republican presidential candidates have called for increasing defense spending. However, given the opportunity to make their own defense budget, a majority of voters (61 percent) cut defense spending in a new in-depth Citizen Cabinet survey. Not even a majority of Republicans made increases. A report of the survey’s findings, “Rightsizing Defense: The Perspective of the People” was released today.
In the survey, a representative sample of more than 7,000 registered voters across the country were first presented detailed, nonpartisan information and competing arguments about the current defense budget. The majority trimmed annual spending by $12 billion, including ground forces by $4 billion (or 3 percent), nuclear weapons by $3 billion (13 percent), air power by $2 billion (1.5 percent), naval forces by $2 billion (2 percent) and missile defense by $1 billion (13 percent). Special operations and the marines were left untouched. No areas were increased.
A majority of Democrats cut $36 billion, independents $20 billion; while there was not majority support for either increases or decreases among Republicans. African American respondents cut the budget $34 billion; Hispanics cut $20 billion.
In addition, 54 percent of respondents approved of cutting the F-35 program, saving $97 billion through 2037. Reducing the numbers of aircraft carriers from 11 to 10 was approved by six-in-ten, saving $7 billion over the next ten years.
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