Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Covid-19 and the Future of the Defense Budget

Covid-19 has presented the clearest and most widespread threat that domestic America has faced in decades. In just a few short months, it feels like our entire lives have been taken over by this pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have been infected, tens of thousands killed, and millions more are still at risk before we can expect to find ourselves on the other side of this crisis. In the face of this threat to our society, the future of the nation’s defense budget could be called into question. 

Citizens may begin to have doubts about their dependence on the nation's bloated military. The end-state of this pandemic is impossible to predict when we are still stuck within the event, but the effects it may have on society could portend some changes to the nation's defense budget. Depending on the length and severity of impact that this still unfolding crisis has on our society, citizens' trust in the military to safeguard them could become diminished. The population may demand that the government's defense budget shift at least partially from its focus on foreign peer threats to domestic preparedness, as the current danger Americans are facing at home provides a much realer threat than some sciamachy across the sea.

However, it seems that this sentiment may not be shared by those within the government. Some members of Congress remain focused more on maintaining the deterrence of  designated peer threats than on shoring up the welfare of society at home. A new bill introduced in Congress this past week proposes the dedication of billions of dollars to a defense fund specifically earmarked to boost deterrence of China. The fund would be used to purchase missile defense systems and bankroll the construction of military bases across the Pacific.

For now, the administration and Congress have maintained the defense budget's course of deterrence. However, the end of this crisis is still not in sight, and pressure from an upended economy and an increasingly distressed society could cause a shift in the focus of our nation's defense budget down the line.

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