America’s Security in the 1980s by Christoph Bertram (eds.)

By Christoph Bertram (eds.)

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None of these conditions exists today. An equally important difference is that taxes were well below current levels as a percentage of GNP and modest tax increases were a realistic prospect. Today, tax cuts are universally expected. Indeed, Congress passed a record tax cut during 1981 that will reduce taxes each year for three years and, starting in 1985, index taxes to offset inflation. As a result, the only increases in Federal revenues that will be available to fund growing defence programmes will result from the overall growth of the economy.

Assuming the extra personnel can be recruited and retained, manpower costs will increase sharply, even if conscription were resumed; funds will also be needed to support and operate these forces. In addition, plans to improve readiness mean more dollars for training and operations as well as for ammunition and spare parts. Planningfor Possible Cutbacks Should it prove necessary to slow the planned build-up, for example, from the Administration'sgoal of7% real growth down to 3% or 4%, the effects could be very disruptive and wasteful.

The most complete assessment of these new views is contained in a publication of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations in early 1980, American Public Opinion and US Foreign Policy, 1979. Public Opinion and Defence Spending Issues Public attitudes to defence spending shifted dramatically during the 1970s. An April 1981 Harris Poll found that 63% of the public supported increased defence spending, even if it 28 Table 6: Defence Spending Attitudes Too Much About Right Too Little 1960 1969 1976 1980 18% 45 21 52% 31 8 36% 32 22 14% 24 49 meant sacrifice elsewhere.

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