How much should the United States spend on defense, and how should it spend that money?
On August 29, a panel hosted by the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at Brookings addressed that question, with an eye toward the next U.S. president and Congress. Two papers, one on the future of the overseas contingency operations budget by former Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale and one on the overall defense budget by Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon, informed the discussion.
Further, no major decisions on U.S. defense spending can be made without a broader consideration of American fiscal policy, budget deficits, and national economic needs. That is true at all times as a general principle. It is also specifically true today, as long as the Budget Control Act remains in effect. That act places clear constraints on all discretionary spending through 2021, and includes the infamous sequestration mechanism to enforce compliance if Congress and the president cannot ensure fiscal discipline through other means. To discuss these matters, Alice Rivlin of Brookings and Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget joined the discussion with Hale and O’Hanlon to provide broader fiscal and economic perspective.
Former Comptroller, U.S. Department of Defense
President - Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
Former Brookings Expert
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