By Debbie Gregory.
President-elect Donald Trump plan to “rebuild” the military with new fighter jets, ships and troops may not get too much opposition from the Republican-led Congress.
Trump’s Defense Department spending plans include 350 new Navy ships, 1,200 aircraft, equipment and weapons for at least 65,000 new Army soldiers and at least 13,000 more Marines, expected to come with a price tag in the neighborhood of $90 billion per year in spending increases.
He would, however, have to prevail over GOP fiscal hawks who have an aversion to deficit spending, as well as Democrats who want equality for both defense and non-defense spending.
Trump’s campaign proposed an action plan for the first 100 days, including a Restoring National Security Act, aimed at “eliminating the defense sequester” — assumed to mean repeal of the Budget Control Act and its multi-year caps — “and expanding military investment.” It would also expand health care options for veterans, protect infrastructure from cyberattacks and impose politically charged screening on immigrants.
Major defense companies’ stocks shot up in the wake of Donald Trump’s election victory, and for good reason, as experts predict firms like General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin will secure hefty contracts and boost hiring.
Following Trump’s win, Lockheed Martin shares gained 6 percent, Raytheon added 7.5 percent, and Northrop Grumman advanced 5.4 percent, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls led the charge with a rise of 11.4 percent.
With that said, Trump faces an uphill battle convincing Democrats and fiscal conservatives in Congress that increasing the nation’s defense budget by billions of dollars is smart policy.
In service of Trump’s peace-through-strength approach, his proposed military buildup features an active-duty Army of 540,000 soldiers, a Navy of 350 ships, an Air Force fleet of 1,200 fighter aircraft and a Marine Corps stocked with 36 battalions. He has also said he also will build a “state-of-the-art missile defense system” and modernize the Navy’s cruisers to provide ballistic missile defense capabilities.
The proposed defense buildup will have natural allies in the armed services committees, and it dovetails with the traditional Republican argument that the military is overstretched, suffering from a critical readiness shortfall and in dire need of expansion.