Reagan's Defense Buildup

April 27, 1984

Report Outline
Spending and Politics
Defense Cost Containment
Arms Restraint Option
Special Focus

Spending and Politics

Fiscal 1985 Budget and Five-Year Plan

Even before feb. 1, when President Reagan asked for a 13 percent increase in defense spending for fiscal 1985, it was assumed that Congress would not give him as much as he wanted. Almost everyone agreed that Reagan's request for $305 billion in spending authority for the Pentagon had to be cut, mainly to staunch the enormous budget deficits the federal government has been running up in recent years. The president himself conceded the point March 15 when he agreed to support a deficit-reduction package that would cut the increase in defense spending to slightly more than 7 percent. So far, however, there has been little serious debate about the larger security issues raised by Reagan's long-term defense program or about how, over the next five years, the country can sustain the level of spending needed to complete the military buildup he initiated in 1981.

Reagan's fiscal 1985 defense request, without correcting for inflation, is more than double the amount Congress appropriated for the Pentagon in fiscal 1980. After taking inflation into account, the fiscal 1985 request is nearly 60 percent higher than the Pentagon's fiscal 1980 appropriation. Data prepared by the Congressional Budget Office indicate that the country now is spending more on defense than it spent at the height of the Vietnam War, in constant dollars, and that it soon will be spending more than at the peak of the Korean War.

For the five-year period beginning with fiscal 1985, the Reagan defense plan calls for total expenditures of $1.9 trillion. Plainly, one of the main issues facing Americans and their elected representatives this election year is whether a continuing military buildup of this size should be bought at the cost of still greater federal borrowing, tax increases or further cuts in domestic programs. To fund Reagan's $1.9 trillion program, the average American family would be required to contribute $30,000 over the next five years, John Isaacs observed in a recent issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Jul. 29, 2016  Modernizing the Nuclear Arsenal
Mar. 08, 2002  Weapons of Mass Destruction
Jan. 31, 1997  Chemical and Biological Weapons
Jun. 24, 1994  Nuclear Arms Cleanup
Jun. 05, 1992  Nuclear Proliferation
Jun. 29, 1990  Obstacles to Bio-Chemical Disarmament
Apr. 22, 1988  The Military Build-Down in the 1990s
May 24, 1987  Euromissile Negotiations
Jul. 11, 1986  Chemical Weapons
Apr. 27, 1984  Reagan's Defense Buildup
Jun. 04, 1982  Civil Defense
Jul. 17, 1981  Controlling Nuclear Proliferation
Jun. 05, 1981  MX Missile Decision
Aug. 15, 1980  The Neutron Bomb and European Defense
Sep. 07, 1979  Atomic Secrecy
Mar. 17, 1978  Nuclear Proliferation
May 27, 1977  Chemical-Biological Warfare
May 13, 1977  Politics of Strategic Arms Negotiations
Nov. 15, 1974  Nuclear Safeguards
Jul. 01, 1970  Nuclear Balance of Terror: 25 Years After Alamogordo
Jun. 18, 1969  Chemical–Biological Weaponry
Jun. 30, 1965  Atomic Proliferation
Mar. 21, 1962  Nuclear Testing Dilemmas
Aug. 16, 1961  Shelters and Survival
Oct. 12, 1959  Chemical-Biological Warfare
May 13, 1959  Nuclear Test Ban
Dec. 04, 1957  Scientific Cooperation and Atlantic Security
May 15, 1957  Changing Defense Concepts
Jul. 03, 1956  Civil Defense, 1956
Nov. 16, 1955  International Arms Deals
Oct. 04, 1954  Industrial Defense
Apr. 15, 1954  National Defense Strategy
Feb. 10, 1954  New Aproaches to Atomic Control
Oct. 10, 1953  Atomic Information
Apr. 11, 1952  Biological Warfare
Oct. 03, 1951  World Arms Race
Feb. 04, 1948  International Control of Atomic Energy
Dec. 06, 1946  International Inspection
Aug. 27, 1943  Gas Warfare
Jul. 24, 1937  The New Race in Armaments
May 05, 1932  Abolition of Aggressive Weapons
Defense Budget
Deficit, Federal Debt, and Balanced Budget