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 Stimson recently hosted a discussion of the study, which shed new light on the linkages and gaps between decisions being made in Washington and what average Americans want. The results also help to clarify which arguments in favor of or opposed to current defense spending have the most resonance with members of the public.
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
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