Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) recently asserted that there is a “potential alliance” forming between Progressive and Tea Party lawmakers on the issue of defense spending cuts. Others have also noted this opportunity: “Arguably, the new Tea Party push on defense spending merely echoes long-standing progressive attacks on the Pentagon budget as the nation’s number one ‘entitlement’ program.”

But defense is no entitlement program. It is one of the core responsibilities of the federal government, and a necessity for sustained security and an independent American foreign policy. The issue of defense spending is exacerbated by a gross misunderstanding among average Americans about the share of military spending in the budget. According to a recent poll, 63% of those asked believe that the United States spends more on the military than on Social Security and Medicare. This is far from reality: roughly 58% of the 2010 U.S. budget was spent on domestic entitlements and welfare spending, whereas 20% was spent on defense.

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