Most U.S. adults support Pentagon spending cuts

By Beth Hallowell

We know that for our communities to thrive, we need to bring people together from different places and different cultures. Yet we have watched over the past year as war and violence have escalated in Ukraine and elsewhere.

For more than 100 years, AFSC has advocated for a more just, peaceful future for all. We have demanded leaders deliver better health care, schools, and jobs—not more money for weapons, war, and corporate defense contractors.

We also know that most adults agree with us, thanks to a national study conducted last year with 1,240 U.S. adults. Our key findings show majority support for cuts to military spending and reinvestment in programs and policies that benefit all of us:

  • 56% of U.S. adults support cutting Pentagon spending, and reinvesting those funds in programs that benefit everyone. That includes pandemic recovery, health care, and jobs. This is compared to just 32% of adults who oppose spending cuts, less than one-third of the U.S. adult population (11% don’t know).
  • A plurality of U.S. adults (47%) agree that spending $422 billion annually on defense contractors—more than half of the Pentagon budget—wastes public funds by enriching CEOs. This astronomical spending comes at the expense of programs that benefit the rest of us. By contrast, only 28% of U.S. adults agree that this level of spending on defense contractors creates jobs and allows for greater specialization (25% don’t know). When asked about specific line-item cuts that they would make to the Pentagon budget, spending on defense contractors was the top choice. 
  • 57% of U.S. adults agree that the U.S. should engage in dialogue with China—and reduce spending that would undermine talks. AFSC has advocated for peaceful solutions and diplomatic engagement throughout our history. And most respondents agree that the U.S. government should engage in dialogue with China as much as possible to reduce tensions while also cutting any spending that would undermine those efforts. That’s compared to only 21% who felt that the U.S. government should not restart talks with China and instead spend more money on military build-up (22% don’t know).
  • 50% of U.S. adults support cutting Pentagon spending on fossil fuels. Did you know that the Pentagon is the largest consumer of energy, and the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, in the U.S. – and one of the largest in the world? Half of U.S. adults agree that we should cut Pentagon spending on fossil fuels and redirect it toward developing clean, homegrown energy sources. Only 31% do not think this is a priority (18% don’t know).

Whatever our background or origin, most of us think about the same things when we go to bed at night. We want to make sure that our families are safe and healthy, have good health care, and can access to education and economic opportunities. This study shows that even though politicians or corporations may be trying to divide us, we can come together and push our leaders for the changes that we want to see. 

Weapons and war do not keep us safe. Instead, we should put our money and time into programs that ensure real safety and security for everyone, like affordable health care, a just judicial system, and economic opportunities. 

Join us in calling for an end to funding for weapons and war. Contact Congress today. 

And learn more about how to talk about cutting military spending.

This poll was conducted by YouGov using a representative sample of 1240 U.S. adults interviewed online from Jan. 7 to Jan. 14, 2022. YouGov stratified the sample recruitment and interviewing to ensure oversamples of Evangelicals (n=384) and Latinos (n=345). The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2020 Presidential vote, registration status, and geographic region. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of adult citizens. The general population weights range from 0.15 to 6.98, with a mean of 1 and a standard deviation of 1.0.