Elizabeth Rose
Otherwords / Op-Ed
Published: Monday 28 May 2012
“The U.S. military budget is six times that of China, and tops the next 17 highest-spending countries combined.”

The Pentagon’s Spending Spree

Article image

Are you wondering where your tax dollars are going? Then take a look at the $642.5 billion stuffed into the National Defense Authorization Act, which the House of Representatives recently approved.

House Republicans may spout plenty of concern about the nation's budget deficit, but their version of the Pentagon's budget tops the spending levels they had agreed to a few months ago by $8 billion. It's also $4 billion above the total that President Barack Obama and the Pentagon requested.

These politicians are trying to fund Cold War-era weapons that our military doesn't want and that have been dismissed as outdated and unnecessary by the top brass — leaders like Gen. James Cartwright, the retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former commander of the country's nuclear forces.

The U.S. military budget is six times that of China, and tops the next 17 highest-spending countries combined.

Military spending has played a significant role in increasing the national debt. Over the last decade, the Pentagon's budget has nearly doubled.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have also contributed to this soaring increase in defense spending and to record deficits.

The drawdown of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq should mean the Pentagon will spend less. But giant military contractors have dumped a fortune into campaign contributions and lobbying, making sure that any and all anticipated savings are going to expensive weapons systems — all paid for by you through your taxes.

The 10 biggest government contractors are all military contractors. These companies each spend millions of dollars a year on political contributions and then millions more on lobbying campaigns. After the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which allowed unlimited corporate spending on political campaigns, these contractors are spending even more to win over lawmakers. And judging from the way they voted for that bloated Pentagon budget, the investment is paying off.

A recent study by the University of Maryland found that three-quarters of Americans favored cutting military spending, including two-thirds of Republicans as well as nine in 10 Democrats. This study also confirmed that respondents generally underestimate the magnitude of the military budget, and that when they receive information about its size — for example, the $642,500,000,000 that the House approved for the Pentagon — they're more likely to support Pentagon spending cuts. $642.5 billion sure looks like more when you see the zeros, doesn't it?

Americans support our troops. Everyone wants America to be safe. But that doesn’t mean we need to buy expensive weapons systems that Pentagon hasn't even asked for. Throwing money at the Pentagon doesn't buy us safety. It just means that our grandchildren will be paying for weapons systems we don't need and can't use because a defense contractor has buttered up a lawmaker at taxpayer expense.

The Senate is unlikely to pass the hike in military spending that the House Republicans voted for, but it shows that if the GOP seizes control of the Senate in November, Uncle Sam will be buying more big weapons systems.

To see the total amount spent on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, click here.



Get Email Alerts from NationofChange
Author pic
ABOUT Elizabeth Rose

Elizabeth Rose is the communications director of Campaign for America's Future. www.ourfuture.org
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

Top Stories

9 comments on "The Pentagon’s Spending Spree"

Riconui

May 29, 2012 6:02pm

Our national security has as much to do with the health of our children as it does with the health of Boeing.....maybe even more. $642.5 bil is an outrage in a down economy. (And none of that amount funds any of the wars we are in or are going to be in apparently).

joe baublis

May 28, 2012 9:36pm

I'm in the lower bowels of the GOP as a tea party member and - believe me - we are trying to reform our end of political system. We are making progress and many of us are outraged that our congressmen voted in favor of the DAA. But I don't see much fiscal reform coming from the democrats regarding social programs, either. And the fact is that the House republicans have passed numerous bills that the Senate democrats won't even call on for a vote.
In addition, many economists - like Krugman and Reich - have argued that public sector spending will "stimulate" the economy, so why not apply their esteemed theory to military spending? And by the way, most of the US wars this century were started by democrat presidents - WW1 , WW2, Korea, Viet Nam, whereas Bush the republican got us into Iraq and Afghanistan. Apparently nobody has noticed, but the "People" have never held the government - or the government officials - liable for the wars, or the other problems that the government causes. So maybe instead of blaming each other, we should be pushing for new laws - authorized by the PEOPLE - to hold government officials liable for the problems they create - including wrongfully denied claims to war veterans.

Riconui

May 29, 2012 5:56pm

Isn't it nice to find some common ground? You are quite right in your critique of both parties having zero spine when faced with the kind of lobbying largesse that military contractors have to throw around. A pox on them all for their fecklessness.

I have to take issue however with your repetition of what has become a conservative trope with little or no basis in fact;

-While compelling arguments can be made about Wilson's motivations at the time, our entry into WW I was supported and encouraged by the conservative movement in this nation, (and I will remind you that the conservatives were largely Democrats at that point in history. Party affiliations were somewhat less polarized then. That was still a half century before the Civil Rights Act).

-WW II was not started by FDR. It was started by first Nazi Germany and then by their allies the Empire of Japan. FDR of course made no secret of his desire to help the British and the French and the USSR, and did, but he did not (Yeah! yeah! yeah! I've heard all the conspiracy theories about this and I am yet to be convinced that FDR encouraged or aided the Japanese to provide him with a "Pearl Harbor moment") "start" WW II.

-No debating it, Truman was the president at the start of the Korean War. Did he start it? As far as my reading of the events of that conflict, it was the result of aggression by the North Korea that threatened to over-run our troops occupying there. Are you suggesting that Truman invited them in? To attack poorly supplied American troops? If not, what do you propose he should have done, turn the country over to the Stalin supported regime and write it off? There was no support for a position like that in the country at that time, from either the conservatives or liberals. Isn't it interesting that the neo-cons cite Truman as among the most inspirational presidents because of his forthright move against North Korea's aggression?

-Viet Nam is much more clear thanks to Daniel Ellsberg. Our involvement in Viet Nam began in the mid fifties.... Eisenhower was the president. The French got their asses whipped at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and the US lept into the breach. It was at the bidding of the US that the plebiscite scheduled for 1956 was cancelled and the US then propped up a puppet regime in Saigon.... all of it under Eisenhower. So your inference that Viet Nam was a Democratic concoction is just anything like true.

Doug McDowall

May 28, 2012 2:52pm

With a larger percentage of the patients being treated in the VA hospital system undergoing treatment for smoking-related diseases or alcohol abuse, how much longer will the taxpayers and state revenue authorities tolerate the costs and loss of revenues due to the tax-free sale of booze and cigarettes through the 150 year old commissary system and class 6 stores on military bases around the US? 18,000 federal employees are employed by this agency that directly competes with big-box stores and local main street businesses that could easily provide the same goods to the troops at no cost to the taxpayers. Why are state tax authorities and the ATF combatting domestic cigarette smuggling from low-tax states into high tax states when the military bases are the largest source of untaxed cigarettes in the nation? We have a well-paid all volunteer military today and there are plenty of stores in communities around bases in the US for the troops to shop at, closing up this agency and their tax-free retailing is long overdue.

mike morell

May 28, 2012 1:53pm

Surprising how rank and file Dems and Repubs agree on most issues: Love of home and country, brotherhood, jobs, patriotism, politeness, fairness, respect for woman rights, national security, nation before ego. Yet, most national frictions are caused by demagogues bent on taking over the party. We'll see the collapse of the GOP in the next elections if Repubs don't retake control or form a new party, the National Party, to pull majorities like they used to.

Theodore Ziolkowski

May 28, 2012 1:29pm

I cannot understand how 58% of the Veterans in the United States of America can support Mitt Romney instead of Barack Obama based upon the Commander in Chief fuynction that President Obama has exceled at. I would also note how hard Michelle is working for the Veterans and Military Men and Women.

Where are your Tax Dollars spent?

“The United States of America’s military budget is six times that of China, and tops the next 17 highest-spending countries combined.” If you are wondering where your tax dollars are going? Then take a look at the $642.5 billion stuffed into the National Defense Authorization Act, which the House of Representatives recently approved. The PENTAGON gets 57% of the Total Budget.

The House of Representatives Conservatives, Republicans, Tea-Party and Blue Dog Democrats may spout plenty of concern about the nation's budget deficit, but their version of the Pentagon's budget tops the spending levels they had agreed to a few months ago by $8 billion. It's also $4 billion above the total that President Barack Obama and the Pentagon requested.

Very simply stated this means that the Conservatives, Republicans, Tea-Party and Blue Dog Democrats are repaying the “Rich and Powerful” military contractors that have contributed to their Campaign funds, with 4 to 8 billion extra dollars of Tax-Payers money.

These politicians are trying to fund Cold War-era weapons that our military doesn't want and that have been dismissed as outdated. Over the last decade, the Pentagon's budget has nearly doubled.

One would think that the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq should mean the Pentagon will spend less. But giant military contractors have dumped a fortune into campaign contributions and lobbying, making sure that any and all anticipated savings are going to expensive weapons systems — all paid for by you through your taxes.

Americans support our troops. Everyone wants America to be safe. But that doesn’t mean we need to buy expensive weapons systems that Pentagon hasn't even asked for. Throwing money at the Pentagon doesn't buy us safety. It just means that our grandchildren will be paying for weapons systems we don't need and can't use because a defense contractor has buttered up a lawmaker at taxpayer expense.

If the GOP seizes control of the Senate in November, Uncle Sam will be buying more big weapons systems, and we the Tax-Payers will pay for them. So you make up your mind how and where you want your Tax Dollars spent with the VOTE you make.

chvietvet

May 28, 2012 12:07pm

There is no need to worry, the costs of the war are somethat exaggerated. After the Vietnam War, our politicians and civil servants learned how to save the money it owed the veterans for benefits simply by delaying processing the applications until the veterans were dead. Not all veterans had to be killed. In my estimation, the veterans who perished on the streets in abject poverty decades before their time only number a little more than half a million. That alone saved the government about $200,000,000,000, based on the costs of heart operations and cancer treatments, which would have been necessary if the veterans had been allowed to live to an old age. The system has now been perfected by the corrupt operation of federal agencies and the courts, which give veterans no chance for redress against the crimes being committed against them. The system has been so perfected that our youngest veterans are committing suicide in record numbers to escape the downward spiral into poverty, homelessness, and death in misery on the streets, which our government has prepared for them. Happy Memorial Day!

cyril

May 28, 2012 8:34pm

Well said, but nessesary if the GOP is forcing the pentagon to keep the bases thay want to close open. Then there is that west coast missel defence system the pentagon does not want but the GOP wants.

Scott Ashley

May 28, 2012 10:19am

Conservatives have done nothing but attack President Obama but when I read articles like this it seems to me that he's the best friend they have ever had. The super rich are making more money than they
ever have while everyone else keeps getting farther behind.