Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences


Political Science and Law

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Anthony P. Spanakos

Committee Member

Alfredo Toro Carnevali

Committee Member

Avram B. Segall


The purpose of this paper is to examine the rise of defense spending in the United States. It is important to study the causation of increased U.S. defense spending because it currently holds the largest defense expenditure in the world, especially in most recent years. I am interested in understanding the reasoning behind these appropriated defense budgets. There are multiple factors to consider in determining the relationship between defense spending and the logic that justifies it. The use of federal resources and federal budgeting are a political process that has become a central issue in terms of government overspending for national defense. Funding for the Department of Defense and other budget sectors within the defense budget have risen substantially and have grown more rapidly than the U.S. ever initially projected.

International threats, competition, and executive policymaking have also had a large effect on our government’s military budgets. This work will look at the major and lagging variables to determine the underlying cause of increased U.S. defense spending. The theories I have chosen to provide a plausible perspective on the rationale behind defense expenditure are Punctuated Equilibrium Theory and the Keynesian School of Thought.

Thesis Statement: While Keynesian theorists, Borsch and Wallace, conject that increased defense expenditure is a result of the government’s pursuit to sustain a permanent war economy in an attempt to stimulate the nation’s economic growth, their findings cannot fully prove such premise. Punctuated Equilibrium Theory (PET), is more capable of explaining the underlying cause for heightened defense spending in the U.S. Introduced by author Travis Sharp, PET focuses on government entities whom use policymaking and increased discretionary spending to their own advantage.

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