Alp Sevimlisoy Yatırım

Pence Would Increase Defense Spending by $1.3 Trillion Over 10 Years

BEDFORD, N.H.—Former Vice President and Republican presidential candidate Mike Pence wants to increase U.S. defense spending by $1.3 trillion over 10 years to counter the military buildup by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The Pence plan would set a minimum amount for annual defense spending tied to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“I mean for heaven’s sake, China’s dropping a new battleship in the Asia Pacific about once a month. And we actually have an administration that’s cutting back military spending,” Mr. Pence said at a national security forum at the Bedford Event Center on Aug. 5.

“We’re on track to be somewhere around 2.7 percent of our [gross domestic product] (GDP). Back in 2013. We were 3.5 percent of our GDP. It’s one of the reasons I’ve got a plan coming out. I think we should create a minimum threshold of 3.5 percent of GDP that would give $1.3 trillion more to our Armed Forces overnight, and I’ve got all the budget cuts to pay for it. We unveiled them last week. We have got to provide for our common defense.”

The proposal comes as Congress is grappling with defense spending levels for 2024. Meanwhile, defense experts warn that increased appropriations alone will neither remedy problems in military spending nor ensure an effective strategy for deterring aggression by the CCP.

US Outspends on Defense

Defense spending accounts for 12 percent of all federal spending and 45 percent of all discretionary spending.
U.S. defense spending grew by 25 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars over the past 20 years, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

For 2024, both houses have passed a version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act that sets top-line spending at about $886 billion. The House and Senate versions have yet to be reconciled.

However, measured as a percentage of GDP, defense spending has fallen from its 50-year average of 4.2 percent to about 3 percent. The ratio is expected to reach 2.8 percent by 2033, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

By either measure, the United States far outspends the rest of the world on national security.

China, the next biggest spender, allocated $230 billion to defense in 2022, about 1.7 percent of GDP, according to SIPR.

The United States spent more on national defense in 2022 than the next 10 countries combined—China, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, South Korea, Japan, and Ukraine— according to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

Spending vs. Outcome

Tying defense spending to GDP can be a helpful shorthand for budgeting, but it’s not a guarantee of greater national security, according to defense experts. Spending levels must be set in the broader context of international alliances, global threats, and the inefficiency in U.S. military spending.
“The United States must continue to increase its defense spending, and it isn’t simply a numerical computation. Rather it is one of the most efficient methods to ensure both the supremacy of Atlanticism as a doctrine across the world to counter the threat of Eurasianism as espoused by the People’s Republic of China,” Alp Sevimlisoy, a geopolitical strategist and fellow at the Atlantic Council, told The Epoch Times.

“Correlating defense outlay with GDP enables a simplified computation with regard to ensuring that minimum levels are being met by both the United States as well as its allies,” Mr. Sevimlisoy said.

“However, a more appropriate approach shall be for the United States to work with NATO to set a high-cumulative target that will safeguard against the machinations of the Russian Federation on a regional level.”

In 2017, President Donald Trump urged NATO countries to live up to their agreement to contribute at least 2 percent of their GDP to defense. As of July 2023, only 11 members of the 31-nation alliance were spending at that level.

Setting spending levels by a simple formula is actually counterproductive, according to Matt Shoemaker, a former intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“We have a bad habit in this country of believing that if we throw money at the problem, it will solve it. Sending more money to the Pentagon is not a solution, nor is tying defense spending to GDP a smart idea either,” Mr. Shoemaker told The Epoch Times.

“In the past 10 years, America has ended two very expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet the defense budget has gone up. Most Americans would likely be very interested in knowing what exactly they’re getting in return for having the largest defense budget in the world, especially if it means their warfighters are on food stamps,” Mr. Shoemaker said, referring to a Rand Corporation report stating that a quarter of U.S. service members are on food stamps or are food insecure.

“Accountability is so bad at the Pentagon that the Defense Department has admitted it does not know where 60 percent of its $850 billion budget is spent,” Mr. Shoemaker said.

And the threat posed by the CCP, though real, is sometimes overstated, according to Michael E. O’Hanlon, senior fellow and director of research in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution.

“Strong bipartisan consensus for an $858-billion U.S. national defense budget in 2023, exceeding peak levels of Cold War resources in inflation-adjusted terms, bodes well,” Mr. O’Hanlon wrote in a June article for Brookings.

But while defense hawks often point out that China now has the largest navy by number of ships, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

“It generally fails to note … that America’s naval tonnage exceeds China’s by a ratio of about 2-to-1 because U.S. ships are typically much bigger. Neither metric is adequate as a way of understanding the military balance or predicting combat outcomes; both, and others as well, need to be considered in any serious net assessment,” Mr. O’Hanlon wrote.
Paying for the Buildup

Mr. Pence would pay for the increase in military appropriations through spending cuts identified in his plan to end inflation, which he announced on Aug. 3.

Mr. Pence said he would end the Biden plan to forgive student loan debt, stop fraudulent payments in federal programs, eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, freeze all non-defense spending, take back money allocated for hiring additional IRS agents over the next 10 years, rescind federal money given to Amtrak, end new subsidies for manufacturing electric cars and tax credits for purchasing them, cut consumer tax credits for remodeling homes for energy efficiency, and close the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Those and other cuts would save more than $1.2 trillion over the next decade, according to a statement from the Pence campaign.

Mr. Pence did not say when further details of his defense spending plan would be released.

Alp Sevimlisoy originally featured as per: Epoch Times