March 31, 2023

Economix Blog: How Readers Cut the Pentagon Budget



Thoughts on the economic scene.

More than 12,000 readers completed The New York Times’s interactive calculator on the Pentagon budget. The results are not scientific, of course. But among those readers who filled out the calculator, a few patterns emerged:

* Some of the most popular choices for budget cuts were administrative areas, including a reduction in recruiting expenses and a consolidation of retail stores on military bases. The second-most popular option over all was an audit of the Pentagon to reduce costs. Of the eight options that at least 50 percent of readers chose, five of them could plausibly be considered administrative.

* Cutting the purchase of weapons, ships and aircraft was nearly as popular as cutting administrative costs.

* Readers were more divided over cutting the number of troops. Bringing home some troops from Europe and Asia was the single most popular choice, picked by 85 percent of readers who filled out the calculator. But larger cuts to troop levels or the Pentagon civilian work force were less popular.

* The least frequently chosen set of options were those that cut pay or benefits for members of the military. The least popular option over all, selected by only 7 percent of readers, was a reduction in college tuition assistance. Options that reduced retirement benefits also tended to be unpopular.

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