Forbes claim on defense spending is deemed "mostly true" - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Forbes claim on defense spending is deemed "mostly true"

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It has become a target in the battle over the federal budget and debt. Many are calling for deep cuts to the defense department. Cutting the military can make politicians from Virginia nervous.

Congressman Randy Forbes attempted to make the argument that defense is not the place to cut.

In a recent Politico column, Forbes said the following:

"As a percentage of our gross domestic product, the defense budget remains just 3.6 percent, this figure is low by all historical standards," Forbes said.

Are we historically spending less on defense, at least on a percentage basis?

According to the reporters of Politifact Virginia, that statement is "mostly true." It is difficult to analyze because the value of money is different when comparing year to year.

But if you adjust everything to 2005 levels -- back in 1945 -- defense spending works out to $900 billion. That was its peak and fell after that.   It didn't reach until the $700 billion mark until 2011. It sits at 3.6 percent now. The defense department budget alone is historically low.

But there are more defense related expenses, like the wars in Afghanistan in Iraq, which are budgeted differently, according to Politifact Virginia reporter Warren Fiske.. His numbers work out to be "mostly true", but it may not tell the whole story.

"It doesn't include the cost of our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and when you factor those things in, it comes to about 5 percent, which is still pretty low," Fiske said.

And you can see all the information behind this week's Politifact Virginia report on their web site, and you can see all our past reports on my political blog,

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