In 2013, the Washington Post’s Brad Plumer wrote (emphasis mine):
The United States spends far more than any other country on defense and security. Since 2001, the base defense budget has soared from $287 billion to $530 billion — and that’s before accounting for the primary costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Plumer added (emphasis mine), “All told, the U.S. government spent about $718 billion on defense and international security assistance in 2011 — more than it spent on Medicare.” In 2011, 20 percent of the federal budget went to defense.
According to USA Today last year, “the U.S. spent $618 billion on its military last year (2013), more than three times the $171 billion budget of second place China.”
Last week, Senators Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton co-sponsored an amendment that would’ve taken the defense budget to $696 billion – $190 billion more than President Obama has requested.
Senator Rand Paul introduced an amendment that was the exact dollar amount Rubio and Cotton asked for–except Paul’s plan would cut from the budget elsewhere to pay for this defense boost.
Only three other Republicans supported Paul’s more fiscally responsible plan. Most Republicans, including Cotton, voted for new spending that would add to the deficit and national debt.
But for Cotton, $696 billion for defense is nowhere near enough.
Defense News reported this week (emphasis added), “Freshman GOP Sen. Tom Cotton says the United States must show it will start a war to prevent one, and suggests the country might need to spend nearly $900 billion annually on its military.”
But guess what? For Cotton, not even this astronomical amount is necessarily enough. “No single amount can be pinpointed,” said Cotton.
In other words, almost a trillion would be nice–but we really shouldn’t put a cap on it.
What Cotton is calling for is, quite literally, unlimited government when it comes to Pentagon spending.
And as we saw with the Paul amendment, Cotton and his fellow hawks have no intention of cutting elsewhere in the budget to pay for this kind of spending.
If you believe America’s security and even greatness can be measured by the dollar amount we spend on our military, as many Republicans apparently do, Sen. Cotton is your man.
If you believe in limited government, you do not have an ally in Tom Cotton.