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Politico: 2 Candidates' Views on Defense

Author: Michael O'Hanlon, Senior Fellow for Foreign Policy Studies, Brookings Institution
September 19, 2012


President Barack Obama and Republic presidential nominee Mitt Romney will be facing off on several issues during this election; but perhaps the greatest attention will fall to the question of cleaning up the U.S. budget mess.

So how do Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama stack up against each other on the enormously important question of U.S. military spending and broader defense strategy?

This is a crucial question for the country. It's also one of the better debates between the two men — since their essential disagreement is over substance rather than silliness.

But there is a third player in the debate — the U.S. budget mess. If the argument was just one of Democratic incumbent against Republican challenger, I'd assume the country couldn't go too far wrong, regardless of who won. But with the trillion-dollar deficits, looming sequestration and other woes afflicting the policy process, I'm less sure things will work out.

Here is, basically, where the president and the governor stand. Obama proposes saving almost $500 billion in defense costs over the next decade, relative to his own administration's earlier plans. This means some $350 billion in cuts relative to where defense would go if allowed to increase with inflation.

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