"Under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, defense spending is on track to fall to its lowest level as a share of the economy since the end of World War II. We currently have the smallest Army since 1940. The Navy is among the smallest it has been since 1915. And the Air Force is the smallest it has been since 1947...
In the current year, we are spending $548 billion – a cut of 10% in real inflation-adjusted dollars. This reduction was done through what is known as the sequester, or automatic defense budget cuts. Under the budget agreement, defense took half of the cuts – even though it makes up only one-sixth of the budget.
As soon as I take office, I will ask Congress to fully eliminate the defense sequester and will submit a new budget to rebuild our military.
This will increase certainty in the defense community as to funding, and will allow military leaders to plan for our future defense needs.
As part of removing the defense sequester, I will ask Congress to fully offset the costs of increased military spending."
Source: The Hill Staff, "Transcript of Donald Trump’s Speech on National Security in Philadelphia," thehill.com, Sep. 7, 2016
"The important question is: Can we cut military spending and still provide for a strong national defense? Yeah, we can, the operative word being defense rather than offense. And as opposed to nation building. So how do you do that? Well, you go down the line, looking at: military in uniform; civilian support to the military in uniform; the conflicts we're currently engaged in; decisions on research and development, how we're going to spend our money going forward; a reduction in our base levels all across the planet; a reduction in nuclear warheads from 2,300 to 500. Given all that, I believe we can provide a strong military defense with a 43% cost reduction. Recognizing that the biggest threat to our national security is our overspending."
Source: Casey Research, "The Best Presidential Candidate No One's Heard Of," caseyresearch.com, Oct. 2, 2011
"The best way to reign in wasteful federal spending is to slash the dangerously bloated military budget by at least 50%. Instead of needless and destructive wars that make us less safe, it's time to bring our tax dollars home to rebuild America…
In addition to bankrupting us financially and morally, the inflated military budget has created a trigger-happy foreign policy, leading to disastrous military interventions and regime change. In the Middle East, this has produced failed states, mass refugee migrations, and ever-worsening terrorist threats…
Far too much of the military budget has become wasteful corporate welfare, and war profiteers drive our foreign policy."
"I think we are overdue for a very thorough debate in our country about what we need, and how we are going to pay for it. Very often, leadership of the Defense Department wants to eliminate certain spending, or wants to change it, and they're stopped by the Congress."
Source: Reuters and Faith Ninivaggi, "Clinton Calls for Commission to Examine U.S. Military Spending," reuters.com, Sep. 17, 2015
(Candidates who have withdrawn or who no longer meet our criteria appear below in black and white and in alphabetical order.)
"[M]ilitary power must be rebuilt to provide for the common defense… Due to budget cuts and the sequester because of the dysfunction in Washington, we are on the path of only spending two and a half percent of GDP on defense by the end of this decade. This is really dangerous.
The president should call on leaders of both parties to fix the budget and to address the short falls in our defense spending. He should show leadership and a commitment to solving this problem. And the next president should launch a strategic review of our military strategy so that we meet 21st century needs with a 21st century defense capability. Then we should fund that strategy, rather than the other way around.
Our military is not a discretionary expense. It is an essential asset to keep the homeland safe and for the world to be a more secure place."
Source: Jim Geraghty, "What You Need to Read in Jeb Bush's Foreign Policy Address," nationalreview.com, Feb. 19, 2015
"I think our first priority is to rebuild our national defenses. That’s what I would be in favor of doing. I'm not in favor of spending money on other things. I'm in favor of spending money on our national defense... We've got to make sure we don't compromise our core principles on this and making sure that we get sufficient increases in defense spending is what I'd really be looking at."
Source: Hugh Hewitt Show, "Christie Open to Deal that Ups Defense Spending in Exchange for Domestic Spending Increase," youtube.com, Oct. 5, 2015
"I supported Marco's [Marco Rubio] amendment increasing defense spending because the very first priority of the federal government must be protecting our vital national security, and the Obama Administration has seriously undermined our military's ability to do so. Of course, we must also be fiscally prudent, which is why I joined Mike Lee in filing an amendment to require Congress to offset any defense increases using other budget reductions and without increasing taxes."
Source: Veronique De Rugy, "Do Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio Think We Can Raise Defense Spending Even More without Cutting Elsewhere," nationalreview.com, Mar. 27, 2015
"Here's what I will do as Commander in Chief. First, we must have the strongest military on the face of the planet and everyone has to know it.
This will take both an investment in our military and a reform of the Defense Department...
President Obama announces the lay-off of 40,000 troops in response to sequester cuts. Professional politicians have engaged in such brinksmanship which brought us the sequester. While everyone decries it, no one has fixed it. We must reinvest in our military."
Source: Carly Fiorina, "Carly Fiorina Reagan Library Remarks as Prepared for Delivery," scribd.com, July 27, 2015
"John Kasich will set priorities and then make the tough choices to get spending under control and then shrink and dismantle the Washington bureaucracy to keep spending under control for the long term. National security is a priority, however, and he will increase defense spending to restore our military and help keep Americans safe... Non-defense discretionary spending will be frozen for eight years at $593 billion annually. Defense spending will increase $102 billion—17 percent—between 2017 and 2025. At the same time, the weapons development process must be made more efficient and the Pentagon bureaucracy must be streamlined so that our troops in harm's way get the maximum benefit of additional defense spending."
"[I]t should trouble all of us that our leaders have allowed the size of America's military, the modernity of its equipment, and the extent of its readiness to decline sharply in recent years...
First came defense cuts of $487 billion over ten years. Then, adding insult to injury, the savings found in the defense budget were redirected to already bloated domestic programs...
This was followed by tens of billions more in defense cuts each year through sequestration, despite the warnings of three Secretaries of Defense and our entire military leadership.
All in all, inflation-adjusted defense spending has declined 21 percent since 2010. Even if we discount the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has still declined a dangerous 12 percent…
We must instead demonstrate a strength in defense capabilities that, as President Reagan envisioned, leaves our enemies unwilling to provoke us… This begins with a willingness to allocate an appropriate amount of money toward our defense needs.
I urge the president to make a request to Congress for additional funding for our military above the amount he requested in February."
Source: Marco Rubio, "Rubio Delivers Speech on Rebuilding American Defense," rubio.senate.gov, Sep. 17, 2014
"At a time when the United States has a $17.2 trillion national debt and when we spend almost as much on defense as the rest of the world combined, the time is long overdue for us to take a hard look at the waste, at the cost overruns, and at the financial mismanagement that have plagued the Department of Defense for decades...
I would ask all of my colleagues to remember what Eisenhower said and understand that today, when we have this bloated and huge military budget, there are people who are talking about massive cuts in food stamps, massive cuts in education, massive cuts in affordable housing, cuts in Social Security, cuts in Medicare, cuts in Medicaid. I would argue very strongly that before we cut from the elderly and the children and the sick and the poor, maybe we take a hard look at this bloated military budget…
It would seem to me that it is important we get our priorities straight. One of the priorities we should be getting straight is that we cannot give the Department of Defense all they want."
Source: Bernie Sanders, "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 - Continued," congress.gov, Dec. 19, 2013
"Well, not only the submarine fleet, but the entire Navy, as you probably know, is at a state that is the smallest that it's been since 1917. We are now in the process of not cutting out fat, but cutting into the muscle and cutting into the bone. And the question is, is that going to continue? And the answer is yes, if we continue with the current rash of sequestering. So I believe that Congress is going to have to intervene, because I think the President is perfectly happy to continue with the cutting into the flesh and the bone of our military strength… We need to look around the world and see what our needs are. It's not necessarily the kind of thing that you can say $600 billion dollars is going to take care of this, or $700 billion, you know, that it may well. But you first of all have to ask yourself what your goals are, what are you trying to accomplish, and how critical those things are. And we look at, you know, things that are Level A critical, things that we absolutely must do. Those cannot be compromised. And we look at Level B, things we'd like to do, and Level C, things we may or may not do sometime in the future. Level A things, we must take care of, so I would be willing to sit down with the budgetary analysts to figure out what that amount has to be to accomplish those things."
Source: Hugh Hewitt, "Dr. Ben Carson on Foreign Policy and National Defense Issues," hughhewitt.com, Mar. 18, 2015
"Well cutting the military really is cutting our capacity to defend ourselves against the crazy people that cut the heads off of children… It incapacitates us from being able to answer very quickly threats anywhere around the world. Whether they are threats of terrorism or the threats of a rogue nation like Iran. Cutting the military is like taking your alarm system out of your house unlocking your doors and window and putting a sign up that says we're vulnerable, unlocked and unarmed. Come steal from us. This is nuts. We need to say this country is prepared for anything you throw at us and if you attempt to come after us, we're going to put you on your backside."
Source: Mary King, "Gov. Mike Huckabee Decries Recent Cuts to Military as 'Nuts' in Lexington Visit," wistv.com, Oct. 3, 2015