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Defense and Deficit Debate

March 13, 1988

Considering that Anthony Cordesman is a legislative aide to U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), his incomplete representation of defense data in the article "Defense Can't Be Hostage of Deficit Debate" (Op-Ed Page, March 4) is troubling. There are several questionable conclusions, but far and away the grossest misreading is his allegation that defense spending "has contributed virtually nothing to the growth of the budget deficit."

To quote the Center for Defense Information, "Since FY 1981 military spending has increased almost three times faster than federal government social and economic spending and the annual federal budget deficit has grown from $79 billion to $178 billion. (The U.S.) has gone from the world's largest creditor nation to the world's largest debtor."

In one aspect Cordesman is correct--Americans are being forced to make some hard choices. We need to decide what constitutes security, and whether or not we are more secure now than we were a decade and 2-trillion defense dollars ago. Our armed forces play a part in our security, but so does a debt-ridden economy. To help make the right decisions, a responsible government official shouldn't be saying that those dollars didn't make any difference.

JACK OVERALL

La Canada

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