Monday, March 26, 2007

When it comes to military spending, the public is far more enlightened than the media and the politicians

The Project on Defense Alternatives notes that for the first time since just after President Clinton took office, a Gallup Poll shows that a plurality of Americans think we are spending too much on defense.
On 1-4 February 2007, the Gallup polling organization asked a representative sample of US citizens if they thought the United States was spending too little, too much, or just the right amount on defense and the military.1 For the first time since the mid-1990s, a plurality of Americans said that the country was spending too much. The surprising result of the survey shows current public attitudes to approximate those that prevailed in March 1993, shortly after former President Bill Clinton took office. Today, 43 percent of Americans say that the country is spending "too much" on the military, while 20 percent say "too little". In 1993, the balance of opinion was 42 percent saying "too much" and 17 percent saying "too little."

What makes this result especially surprising is that few leaders in Congress and no one in the administration today argues that the United States can or should reduce military spending. Quite the contrary: leaders of both parties seem eager to add to the Pentagon's coffers, even as public anti-war sentiment builds. And Congress is not the only institution that appears insensitive to the shift in public opinion. The Gallup survey also drew little attention from the news media. Indeed, a Lexis-Nexis database search shows almost no coverage of the poll, which was released on 02 March 2007.
The public is clearly way ahead of the media and the politicans on this. But they're bound to catch up. "You can fool some of the people some of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. "

(H/t to Matt Yglesias.)

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