Marco Rubio’s Defense Budget Boost Back to 2012 Baseline

November 19, 2015
Demian Brady
Marco Rubio

In the most recent Republican presidential debate, Marco Rubio said, "I do want to rebuild the military." So what did he mean by that? Several candidates have talked about expanding or "rebuilding" the military without explaining how much their proposals would cost. To Rubio's credit, he has a very detailed plan not only outlining the specific military reforms he would implement, but he has also provided information regarding the budget for his plan, at least over the near term.

Rubio's campaign website includes a ten point plan with 49 components to "Rebuild and Modernize Our Military." Elements of his plan would:

  • Plug critical operations and maintenance shortfalls, restore military readiness through accelerated training and exercises;
  • Build a “full spectrum” force able to maintain security simultaneously in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East;
  • Increase the size of the Navy to a minimum of 323 ships by 2024;
  • Develop and field the Long Range Strike Bomber capable of both conventional and nuclear missions to replace our current aging fleet of B-52, B-1, and B-2 bombers;
  • Reverse the current cuts and maintain the Marine Corps and the Army at their pre-9/11 end-strengths of 182,000 and 490,000 respectively;
  • Reform the military benefit structure and military career paths and specializations;
  • Shrink the Pentagon bureaucracy;
  • Overhaul the acquisitions process;
  • Modernize missile defense;
  • Modernize the nuclear arsenal;
  • Improve cyber defense capabilities.

To pay for this, Rubio states that he would “work to return to Secretary Gates’ fiscal year 2012 budget baseline over the course of his first term.” In 2012, total outlays for national defense stood at $677.852 billion (xls) and has decreased over the subsequent years. According to the latest Congressional Budget Office outlook, defense outlays will be $592 billion in FY 2017, the first year that the next President is in office.

CBO forecasts total defense outlays of $2.43 trillion from 2017-2020. NTU Foundation assumes that Rubio would increase spending by $28.6 billion per year to get to the 2012 level in 2020. Relative to CBO’s forecast, Rubio’s plan would increase defense spending by $101.7 billion over 3 years.

Demian Brady

Director of Research

Demian Brady is the Director of Research for the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. His responsibilities include producing commentaries and studies on fiscal issues, as well as managing NTUF's BillTally program (which tracks the impact of legislation on the size of the federal budget), State of the Union analysis, and more. Demian's research has been cited in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Times. In addition, he has written on a number of budget-related issues for both NTU and NTUF. Mr. Brady resided and worked in Columbus, Ohio before moving to Washington, DC in 1998. He earned an M.A. in Political Science from American University. He received a B.A. in Russian Area Studies from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. 

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