A new Rasmussen poll indicates that a majority of Americans feel that United States military spending is either just right or not enough. The poll, released on Dec. 1, found that 64 percent of likely voters approve of the current level of military spending or would like to see it increased.
The poll comes as the Obama Administration touts a new deal that would delay the Iranian nuclear program for six months in exchange for relief from international sanctions. Another Rasmussen poll from last week found that voters were split on the Iran deal. Forty-one percent favor the deal while 43 percent are opposed.
American foreign policy is also being challenged in the Far East. After China declared an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the disputed Japanese Senkaku Islands. President Obama sent a flight of U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortresses to challenge what Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, director of Asia-Pacific programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, called “a bolder foreign policy in light of an anticipated U.S. decline” in CNN.
In light of the recent foreign policy news, the Rasmussen poll found that only 29 percent say the U.S. spends too much money on defense. Twenty-seven percent say that the U.S. currently spends the right amount on defense. A plurality, 37 percent, say that the U.S. does not spend enough on defense and national security in spite of the fact that the federal defense budget spends more than the next 10 countries combined.
The percentage of Americans supporting the current level of military spending has increased sharply since a February 2013 Gallup poll. The poll of adults found that 36 percent felt that military spending was too high and 35 percent found it about right. Only 26 percent thought that military spending was too low. The trend toward more support for military spending was already underway, however.
Similarly, an ABC News/Washington Post poll from March 2013 found that American adults supported federal budget cuts by a two-to-one margin, but that a nearly identical margin opposed cuts to the military budget. The poll specifically addressed the sequester’s five percent cut to overall spending and the eight percent cut to military spending.
The deal between Republicans and Democrats that ended October’s partial government shutdown authorized current spending levels through January 15, 2014. As budget negotiations heat up in the new year, it is likely that defense spending will again be an issue. MSNBC’s Timothy Noah points out that the next round of sequester budget cuts will come entirely from the military budget. If the president tries to force the military budget cuts to take effect or exchange military funding for tax increases, it may put him further against popular opinion.