Republicans and Democrats in Washington may disagree about cutting the defense budget, but their constituents are generally in accord that it should shrink next year by a fifth to a sixth of its present size, according to a public opinion survey by the Program for Public Consultation, the Center for Public Integrity and the Stimson Center, a nonprofit think-tank.
The three groups first reported the existence of a broad public consensus in favor of military spending reductions in May, after conducting a unique nationwide survey in which respondents received information about the defense budget and had the chance to read multiple pro and con arguments about the military budget like those circulating on Capitol Hill.
Now a more detailed analysis of the results of that survey has shown that majorities in both red and blue congressional districts — those with Republican and Democratic representation, respectively — strongly support the idea that the defense budget should be cut more than politicians in Washington are considering.
The Obama administration has only proposed to reduce planned military spending increases, leaving the budget mostly flat over the next decade. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has instead called for returning to the steady military spending growth seen over the past decade.
Both parties have decried a potential annual spending reduction of around 10 percent, under “sequestration” legislation approved last year aimed at cutting the overall federal deficit. A military cut of that magnitude would take effect automatically only if lawmakers are unable to agree on an alternative pathway to balanced budgets.
But the survey indicates that the public generally supports an even greater whack, no matter where they reside.