What Kind of Defense Budget Would the American Public Make?

Release of New Study


  • Steven Kull, Director of the
    Program for Public Consultation*
  • Matthew Leatherman, Analyst, Stimson’s
    Budgeting for Foreign
    Affairs and Defense project
  • R. Jeffrey Smith, Managing Editor for
    National Security, Center for Public Integrity

What would average Americans do if they were informed about the level and
purposes of US defense spending and had a chance to weigh the arguments that
experts make? Would they boost overall funding, or cut it? Would they spend
more on air power or sea power? How much would they say the US should spend on
nuclear arms? On major ground forces? On special forces?
Most polls simply ask whether defense spending should be cut or not. But three
organizations – ­ the Program for Public Consultation (PPC), Stimson, and the
Center for Public Integrity – ­ collaborated on a more useful survey. They
provided a representative sample of the American public neutral information
about how funds are currently being spent, and exposed them to the various
arguments made by advocates in the
contemporary debate on whether defense should be cut. The respondents then said
what they wished to spend in key areas.
The results of this innovative survey are now in, and a presentation hosted by Stimson shed new light on the linkages ­ and gaps ­
between decisions being made in Washington and what average Americans want. The
results also made clear which arguments in favor of or opposed to current
defense spending have the most resonance with members of the public.

Please call 202-232-7500 for additional information.

*The Program for Public Consultation is a joint program of the Center for
Policy Attitudes and the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland.


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