Research: Publications

Four Decades of US Defense Spending

January 25, 2013 | Report

By Charles Knight, Ethan Rosenkranz, Carl Conetta

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Evident in the graph are both the Reagan Cold War peak  in spending (1985) and the post-911 peak (2010).  The two are roughly comparable in real dollar terms, although what distinguishes the two periods is the end of
the global US-Soviet contest in 1992.

The graph also suggests that the Obama administration’s forthcoming reduction plan (green trend line)  is relatively modest, bearing no real comparison to post-Cold War retrenchment.  Not even sequestration (red
trend line) is comparable. Either of these options would hold US defense spending above the Cold War average.

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