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Defense Squeeze Tight, Non-Defense Squeeze Tighter


As Defense Secretary Panetta prepares to offer a strategy for cutting the defense budget over the next decade, a new CBPP report shows that the tight annual funding limits scheduled for 2013-2021 will squeeze non-defense appropriations even more than defense.

This finding contradicts claims by House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) and others that the required cuts disproportionately affect the military.

As our report shows:
  • Between 2011 and 2021, non-defense discretionary funding — the part of the budget that includes education, veterans’ health care, law enforcement, food safety, medical research, and many other programs — will shrink by 17.1 percent, after adjusting for inflation, while funding for defense will decline 15.1 percent (see graph).
  • As a share of the economy, non-defense funding will shrink by 1.22 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) over this period, while defense funding will decline 1.17 percent of GDP.
  • Over the two-decade period from 2001 to 2021, non-defense discretionary funding will shrink by 0.96 percent of GDP, while defense funding will shrink by a little over half as much — by 0.58 percent of GDP.

Defense funding in 2021 — at 2.5 percent of GDP — will be the lowest since 1940, before the nation’s entry into World War II.  But at 2.4 percent of GDP, non-defense discretionary funding will be at its lowest level since 1930.

Click here for the full report.