Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel is appearing today before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is considering his nomination as the next Secretary of Defense.
Hagel has proven to be the most controversial of President Barack Obama's new Cabinet nominees. He has sparked critiques from the Republican Party, of which Hagel was a member as a Senator.
Ignoring most of the personal attacks, opinions on Hagel's credentials as Secretary of Defense are heavily influenced by a single chart that shows how Hagel and Obama agree on military budget cuts.
The chart displays how much the United States spends annually on the defense budget. Each vertical grid-line coincides with the beginning or end of a president's term in office:
There was a meteoric rise in spending during George W. Bush's administration, primarily a result of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as procurement. Since Obama took office, however, spending peaked around the fiscal year 2010 and then began to rapidly decline.
Part of this is the result of sequestration's effect on the fiscal year 2013 budget. However, sequestration doesn't hit operation and maintenance spending. Most of the effects of sequestration can be seen in the procurement and research and development aspects of the budget.
One of Hagel's major sells for Obama is their mutual willingness to cut the size of the military, which he has said is "bloated" as it has more than doubled since the Cold War.
Military cuts are vehemently opposed by Republicans , specifically some of Hagel's most prominent critics; in Oklahoma, Sen. James Inhofe, and in Arizona, Sen. John McCain.
Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma wrote in a Washington Post op-ed last week that Obama is "unyielding in his determination to oversee significant reductions to the size and resourcing of our military."
"I fear that Hagel will be a staunch advocate for, or even accelerate, the continuation of this administration’s misguided policies," Inhofe wrote.
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