The second of two reports from Factcheck.org on the Republican debate which I find worth quoting in whole debunks the common Republican claim that we currently face problems because Bill Clinton drastically cut back on the military:
Rudy’s Historic Rewrite
Giuliani falsely blamed President Clinton for cuts in the military that happened mostly under a Republican administration:
Giuliani: Bill Clinton cut the military drastically. It’s called the peace dividend, one of those nice-sounding phrases, very devastating. It was a 25, 30 percent cut in the military. President Bush has never made up for that. We – our Army had been at 725,000; it’s down to 500,000.
Actually, most of the cutting to which Giuliani refers occurred during the administration of George H.W. Bush. At the end of fiscal year 1993 (which was Bush’s last one in office), the Army had 572,423 active-duty soldiers – a far cry from 725,000. In fact, to get to that number, one has to go back to 1990, during the first gulf war. Moreover, Clinton’s cuts in the military, while large, were nowhere close to 25 percent to 30 percent. Between 1993 and 2001, the Army went from 572,423 to 480,801, which is a decline of 16 percent. The entire military went from 1,705,103 to 1,385,116, a decrease of 18.8 percent.
Compare that with the far larger cuts made during the first Bush administration: In 1989, the military stood at 2,130,229 and the Army had 769,741 soldiers. By 1993, those numbers had declined by 19.9 percent and 25.6 percent, respectively.
And as we’ve pointed out before, it was the first Bush administration – specifically then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney – that began bragging openly of the peace dividend.