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Past Policy 2020 Event

Defense policy and the 2020 election

Past Event

The 2020 election takes place at an extraordinarily polarized moment in American history. Having claimed over 180,000 lives and destroyed millions of jobs, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate headlines and will be at the forefront of voters’ minds when they cast their ballots in November. Yet, America also faces a wide array of national security threats beyond the pandemic, threats that require attention, planning, and investment from national leadership. While the National Defense Strategy places a rising China and a revanchist Russia at the heart of defense planning, other threats such as extremist actors, climate change, and transnational criminal organizations challenge the U.S. as well. Moreover, as the nation embraces historically high deficits to tackle the pandemic, Congress and the administration will need to make difficult trade-offs to pay for it all, promising a contentious debate in the coming year about the future of the defense budget.

On September 15, the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, as part of the Policy 2020 event series, discussed these and other issues as the nation prepares for the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

The Policy 2020 event series aims to empower voters with fact-based, data-driven, non-partisan information so they can better understand the policy matters discussed by candidates running for office in 2020.

Questions from the audience will follow the discussion. Viewers can submit questions via email to or on Twitter using #Policy2020.



Maya MacGuineas

President - Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget


Jessica Mathews

Distinguished Fellow - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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