As I reported here a while ago, there are a few rigged polls purporting to show that a majority of Americans support deep defense spending and force structure cuts. One of them has been jointly produced by the leftist “Center for Public Consultation” and the also leftist Stimson Center.
The CPC has recently repackaged that poll and delivered a “press briefing” (read: “propaganda show”) on its subject on Capitol Hill, trying to mislead members of Congress and their staffers and induce them to keep the disastrous deep defense cuts mandated by the BCA (which, including sequestration, total over $100 bn per decade).
“Last week, the Center for Public Consultation repackaged a recent survey on defense spending to show that American citizens–Republican as well as Democrat–favored significant cuts to the Department of Defense, and that even those from military-heavy regions often opted to cut deeply.
President Barack Obama’s $525 billion request for Defense Department spending in 2013 is down from $530 billion in 2012, in keeping with an already-programmed slate of $487 billion in reductions to be taken across the next decade, before any additional sequester cuts are exacted.
Given a few paragraphs of information arguing for and against more spending and a blank box with a dollar sign, the 665 respondents the center polled crafted a defense budget on average 18 percent below current spending levels.
“Portraying this as a partisan difference to me doesn’t seem to be true,” survey co-creator Matt Leatherman of the Stimson Center said during a presentation of the data on Capitol Hill.
In reality, especially on defense issues, public answers change every time pollsters ask the questions. Gallup, which surveys public opinion on defense spending levels annually, charts a careening line graph showing often dramatic changes in American thought on the subject every single year.
The question is especially relevant given the prospect on Capitol Hill of sequestration: an added half-trillion in cuts to be exacted from the Defense Department automatically if Congress does not act to avoid them. While Defense leaders say the cuts will create a “hollow force” unable to respond to contingencies, the perception of a permissive American public could make Congress less anxious to take action.
Spending evidently hit a sweet spot in 2005, when equal percentages of respondents thought the Defense Department was spending too much and too little; since then, anywhere between 31 percent and 44 percent of Americans have wanted to cut defense spending, while between 52 percent and 65 percent of respondents have wanted to raise it or keep it the same.
A national security strategist with centrist think tank Third Way, Mieke Eoyang, said her research has shown that answers on spending change based on how questions are phrased and what context is given.”
As I explained a while ago, such polls should be treated with more than a grain of salt, and polls by the CPC and the Stimson Center should actually be treated very skeptically. Depending on how you word the questions, you could find that Abraham Lincoln, John Paul II, Adolph Hitler, and Joseph Stalin would’ve answered them the same way. The poll was also likely rigged in order to produce the predetermined result which the CPC and its spokesman Matt Leatherman desired.
The Stimson Center is a leftist “think-tank”, as is the CPC, so their polls cannot and should not be taken seriously. They’re already done one poll earlier this year (or maybe Hodge is talking about the same poll) purporting to “show” that a majority of Americans supports deep defense cuts. Funny, because two polls done within the last several months – one by Gallup and one by OpenCongress – show that a majority of Americans OPPOSE defense cuts, even as a deficit reduction measure.
Besides, the result of any poll depends on how you word questions, and whether, in advance of the poll being made, you feed the respondents with negative information about defense. The Stimson Center guy has openly admitted that before the questions themselves were asked, respondents were fed with negative information purporting to show how “big” and “bloated” the defense budget is, DESIGNED to mislead those people and to induce them to support deep defense cuts. The poll’s questions, likewise, were worded in a biased manner.
Lastly, and most importantly, Hodge needs to realize that it doesn’t matter what the public (the voters) want – what matters is what the CONSTITUTION says. If even 99% of Americans said they wanted deep defense cuts, or wanted to maintain the federal Department of Education, that would not matter one iota. What matters is what the Constitution says. America is a REPUBLIC, not a democracy. Democracies destroy themselves.
And as for the statement that
“Given a few paragraphs of information arguing for and against more spending and a blank box with a dollar sign, the 665 respondents the center polled crafted a defense budget on average 18 percent below current spending levels.”
Oh really? A few paragraphs of information arguing for and also just a few paras of “info” arguing against more spending? Or was it a little information in favor of current levels of defense spending and tons of false “information” (i.e. leftist propaganda) arguing for deep defense cuts?
Besides, the debate over the cuts mandated by the BCA (including sequestration) is NOT about MORE defense spending. It’s about preventing massive CUTS to the defense budget, cuts which could total over $1 trillion over a decade, or more than $100 bn every year from now until FY2022. So the poll evidently asked the wrong question. Those of us who want to prevent these massive defense cuts are not advocating more defense spending. We just want to prevent massive reductions of it.
A group of 665 respondents is supposed to be representative? Please. A truly representative poll would have to be done on a sample of AT LEAST 1000 people.
That poll is nothing more than a hatchet job, a rigged, biased propaganda piece designed to produce the predetermined result, produced by leftists like Leatherman who want to see deep defense cuts. Congress should completely disregard that poll.
Providing for a strong defense is a Constitutional DUTY of the federal government. Financing entitlements, welfare programs, or Departments of Education, Energy, Labor, Agriculture, HHS, HUD, or Homeland Security is unconstitutional, because the federal government has only very limited prerogatives, which do not include any of the foregoing other than defense.
Yet, at present, the federal government is FAILING to fulfill its Constitutional duty. Today, defense spending is at a record low – 3.63% of GDP and less than 15% of the total federal budget. Even adding the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan doesn’t change that – that adds up only to 4.41% of GDP and less than 19% of the TFB.
The $487 bn cuts mandated by the first tier of the BCA are already deep enough and will cut beyond fat and into the muscle, eliminating any wasteful spending. America cannot afford to cut its defense investments further without serious adverse national security consequences.