President George Bush enjoyed a good relationship with those men and woman in the armed forces, and as such had a 65% overall approval rating, compared to President Obama’s 54% overall “DISAPPROVAL RATING, as Commander-in-Chief, or to put it more precise a 15% approval rating (as of January 2016).
It’s not hard to see why. As the Washington Times pointed out, for fiscal 2017, Obama has requested $551 billion for the base defense budget, plus funding for ongoing operations, for a total of $610 billion. That sounds like a lot of money — but only if you overlook a couple of very important points.
One is that these amounts, historically speaking, are extraordinarily low. Few people will be surprised that the U.S. spent more on defense in the Reagan years (military spending to the same percentage of gross domestic product would be $1.1 trillion annually, on average). But it was $917 billion annually during the Carter years, and $761 billion when George W. Bush was in office.
The military’s budget was even higher during the Clinton years: $624 billion. Now we’re talking about lowering it to $610 billion. As defense expert Justin Johnson recently pointed out, “As a percent of the government spending or total economy, the U.S. has not spent so little on national defense since the end of World War II.”
Now, they’re getting revenge on Obama, as he officially leaves office with the lowest military approval ever!. As the Military Times reported:
“There’s no question this era will go down as the third ‘hollow’ army, and it’s the president’s fault,” said James Jay Carafano, deputy director of international studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “For all his promises, the operations tempo hasn’t gone down as much as he hoped, and he has invested little in the military.”
Troops responding to the Military Times/IVMF poll saw years of defense budget fights as the largest blemish on Obama’s presidency. Two-thirds said spending caps enacted in 2011 have had a very negative effect on military morale, and another 28 percent said it was harmful to a lesser extent. Fewer than two percent saw the budget caps as a positive for the military.
Conservatives have attacked Obama for the lower defense budgets for years, arguing that his insistence on pairing military spending with non-defense spending has crippled Pentagon efforts to modernize and recapitalize.
The caps — known as sequestration — have been blamed for shortfalls in parts and repairs, cuts in training time and a gradual drawdown in military manpower. They’ve also contributed to a host of compensation trims, as Pentagon leaders have held down pay increases and stipend raises in recent years to help offset funding reductions in other areas.
What do you think the ugliest part of Obama’s legacy will be? Let us know in the comments!