The Reagan defense budget: prospects and pressures

by Kevin N. Lewis

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In this paper, the author discusses the ways in which a range of possible outcomes of the Reagan Administration's economic program could help to reinforce or undermine the prospects for real U.S. defense budget increases on the order of those presented by the President in March 1981. The prospects for planned real budget growth (which has been projected by some officials at 7 percent per year, in terms of outlays) could be rendered fairly bleak should the overall federal economic plan fail. Under any circumstances, moreover, the political rationale for maintenance of significant real DOD budget growth can be expected to remain in a state of conflict with other components of the Reagan economic plan. Too, whether or not the Reagan economic program is successful, powerful pressures and restraints will undoubtedly shape the internal mix of the defense buildup.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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