President Trump wants to boost the military’s budget by billions of dollars. But given the chance, the public – even fellow Republicans – would do just the opposite, according to a new poll out this week.
The University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation recently asked a nationally representative sample of 1,800 Americans what they’d like to see the country spend on 31 key budgetary categories. Pollsters gave respondents current-year spending levels and asked them how they’d increase or decrease funding.
Now that Trump’s budget is out, the poll allows us to pinpoint exactly where the public’s budgetary priorities diverge the most from the president’s. And there’s no greater point of divergence than defense spending.
The Trump administration calls for beefing up defense spending by $52.3 billion dollars next year (with an additional $1.4 billion increase going to nuclear weapons programs at the Department of Energy), and they’d completely eliminate a slew of other agencies and programs to make it deficit-neutral.
But when Maryland’s pollsters asked voters, they found that the typical voter would cut defense spending by $41 billion. All told, that adds up to a nearly $100 billion gap between what the public wants to spend on defense, and what Donald Trump wants to spend on it.
Perhaps more surprisingly, not even Republican voters wanted to see a big defense hike. The typical Republican respondent opted to cut defense spending by $5 billion. Democrats would cut it by a whopping $81 billion.
“The gaps between the public’s proposed budget and the Trump administration’s budget are quite substantial,” said survey director Steven Kull of the University of Maryland, “especially when it comes to military spending.”
Trump’s big military hikes are in line with his emphasis on national security, as well as his demonstrated fixation with the trappings of the military state.