We currently spend more on defense than the next 7 countries combined. Defense spending accounts for almost 20 percent of all federal spending — nearly as much as Social Security, or the combined spending for Medicare and Medicaid. The sheer size of the defense budget suggests that it should be part of any serious effort to address America’s long-term fiscal challenges.
National security threats have evolved over the past 50 years, changing the nature of U.S. commitments around the world. We need a defense budget that matches these new security challenges, not the threats of the last century. We should also recognize that a strong economy is essential for providing the resources to meet future threats, and addressing our long-term structural debts will keep our economy strong. Indeed, as Admiral Mike Mullen, the past Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said: “The single greatest threat to our national security is our debt.”