A Democratic senator urged President Obama on Tuesday to include the military budget in his proposed spending freeze.
"Defense represents a significant part of our discretionary spending in this country. The defense establishment needs to be under fiscal discipline, as do all of our agencies." Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told reporters in the Capitol. "I don't think defense should be exempt. If there are extraordinary things that occur that require us to respond for national security, we always will be prepared to do that. But to exempt the normal military spending just because it's military, to me, is wrong."
The U.S. government spends more on defense than on all other discretionary spending combined, according to the Congressional Budget office.
The CBO estimated that for fiscal year 2009, the government will spend $584 billion on non-defense discretionary spending. Meanwhile, the U.S. will lay out $657 billion on defense spending. That would make it 4.6 percent of the gross domestic product, the highest share since 1992, when the Cold War ended.
Obama recently decided to send more than 30,000 additional troops, at a cost of roughly $1 million each, to Afghanistan. Cardin said that U.S. troops should always have the equipment and training they need, but that the military in general should be subject to the same freeze the president wants for non-defense programs.
"We'll do what's necessary to make sure our soldiers have what they need and our country has the defense it needs," he said. "But if we are able to achieve savings in defense, as we can in discretionary spending, then we need to do it."