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Real specifics: 15 ways to rethink the federal budget–Part I: Budgeting for a modern military

Friday, February 22, 2013

Although the president and Congress averted the so-called “fiscal cliff” at the start of the year, budget battles continue in Washington as lawmakers must now agree on specific ways to reduce spending and/or raise revenues. As a large contributor to the nation’s debt, rising military spending remains a controversial area of discussion.

On February 22nd, The Hamilton Project at Brookings hosted a forum and released new proposals on ways to create greater efficiency in the U.S. defense budget while maintaining our national security.

Retired four-star Admiral Gary Roughead, a former chief of Naval Operations; Kori Schake, a reserach fellow at the Hoover Institution; and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Cindy Williams, a former assistant director of the Congressional Budget Office, offered two new proposals for reducing future defense budgets. The authors were joined by former Deputy Secretary of Defense John Deutch, former Undersecretary for Defense Michèle Flournoy, and former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) for a roundtable discussion on the new proposals, and a broader discussion around the dynamics of ongoing defense budget negotiations. Following the roundtable, the panelists took audience questions.

This forum kicked off a two-part series, during which The Hamilton Project will inject 15 specific, independent ideas into long-standing debates over addressing the federal budget deficit. The second event will be held on February 26th in Washington, DC.



Robert E. Rubin
Co-Chair, Council on Foreign Relations;
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary

Roundtable Discussion

Author:  Adm. Gary Roughead (Ret.)
Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Former Chief of Naval Operations

Author:  Cindy Williams
Principal Research Scientist, Securities Studies Program, MIT
Former Assistant Director, Congressional Budget Office

Discussant:  John Deutch
Institute Professor, MIT
Former Director of Central Intelligence
Former Deputy Secretary of Defense
Former Undersecretary of Energy

Discussant:  Michèle Flournoy
Senior Adviser at the Boston Consulting Group
Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy

Discussant:  The Hon. Sam Nunn
Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Nuclear Threat Initiative, Inc.
Former U.S. Senator (D-Ga.)

Moderator:  Michael Greenstone
Senior Fellow and Director, The Hamilton Project, The Brookings Institution

Event Forum

The Brookings Institution


Follow @hamiltonproj and see the conversation using #RethinktheBudget

Available Downloads

Full Transcript (unedited)pdf


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