Politics Magazine

55% Of Discretionary Budget Is Bloated Military Spending

Posted on the 15 January 2015 by Jobsanger
55% Of Discretionary Budget Is Bloated Military Spending
55% Of Discretionary Budget Is Bloated Military Spending
The charts above, from the National Priorities Project, show the 2015 discretionary budget for the United States. The discretionary budget is that portion of the total federal budget that is paid for by income and other taxes, and it is the budget that Congress has authority over each year.
Social Security benefits and most of Medicare are not included in this because they are not a part of the discretionary budget. They are paid for with a separate tax (payroll FICA tax) that is dedicated by law to only be used for them. (NOTE -- the Social Security listed in the discretionary budget here is not to pay for benefits -- but to repay money that Congress borrowed from the Social Security Trust Fund.)
It is important to remember this, because the Republicans are trying to fool you into believing Social Security is the reason for our budget deficit. That is a lie. Social Security has not contributed even a penny to the budget deficit. No money from the discretionary budget has ever been used to pay for Social Security benefits. Those benefits have always been paid from the Social Security Trust Fund, and that fund can continue paying full benefits for another 20 years. After that, it will need an adjustment in the cap on wages subject to the FICA tax (which will not affect the working class or most of the middle class at all), or benefits will fall to 80%.
The point I am trying to make is that, regardless of what the Republicans claim, Social Security (and Medicare & Medicaid) are not the reasons for our federal budget deficit or the growing federal debt. So what is causing the deficit and the debt? In short, it is spending more in the federal discretionary budget than can be paid for with current federal revenues (income and other taxes and fees). And the charts above show what that spending is paying for.
Note that defense (military) spending eats up 55.2% of the discretionary budget. That means all spending on everything else is only 44.8% of the budget. And that is not likely to change with the Republicans in control of both houses of Congress. They want to cut the 44.8% that funds almost everything the federal government does, and use those cuts to give even more to the military budget (and cut taxes for the rich and corporations).
You may be thinking that we need that $640 billion military budget because we are involved in a war in Afghanistan and military actions in Iraq and Syria. But NONE of that $640 billion goes to pay for the wars. Those are paid for with separate spending bills (which add even more to the deficit and debt).
So where is that military spending going? Much of it goes to the military-industrial complex -- and too much is spent on weapons production (weapons that don't work, are overpriced, and aren't needed or wanted by the military). A prime example of this concerns the engine for the new jet fighter (which still doesn't work like it's supposed to). The military chose the engine it wanted for the new jet and asked for only that engine to be produced. But Congress instead continues to fund the testing and production of two engines for the jet (which keeps unnecessary federal funds flowing to the corporation producing the unwanted engine). This is far from the only wasteful spending going to the military-industrial complex.
Another big hunk of that money goes to maintain over 800 U.S. military bases around the world. This is a ridiculous number of bases considering there are less than 200 countries in the world (which would be an average of more than 4 U.S. military bases in every single country in the world). Defenders of the current military budget will tell you that all of these bases are necessary to defend our country. That is ludicrous. No other country feels their defense requires over 800 military bases around the world. The truth is these bases are primarily to bully and coerce other countries into complying with U.S. policy and with U.S. corporate interests. We are not the world's "policeman" -- but the world's "bully".
The truth is that the United States by itself spends about 45% of the entire world's military spending, and we could cut our military budget by 3/4 and still be spending significantly more than any other country spends (friend or foe). Here is the military spending in 2014 for the world's 13 biggest military spenders, and while the U.S. has increased their spending (and other nations may well have also), I am confident the ratio is much the same this year.
1. United States....................$612.5 billion
2. China....................$126 billion
3. Russia....................$76.6 billion
4. Saudi Arabia....................$56.725 billion
5. Great Britain....................$53.6 billion
6. Japan....................$49.1 billion
7. India....................$46 billion
8. Germany....................$45 billion
9. France....................$43 billion
10. Italy....................$34 billion
11. South Korea....................$33.7 billion
12. Brazil....................$33.142 billion
13. Australia....................$26.1 billion
Note that you would have to combine the spending of the other 12 countries to equal the spending of the United States. It is obvious that the United States does not have to spend $640 billion to defend itself. The bloated U.S. military budget could be cut significantly, and the money used to help the unemployed, take care of the poor and disadvantaged, assure children a great education (including reduced college costs), clean up our environment (and stop global warming), and fund research into clean & renewable energy sources and medical research. This would make the U.S. a better country for all of its citizens, and there would probably be enough money left to put a significant dent in world hunger.
Wouldn't that make more sense? It is time to cut the defense (military) budget -- by a LOT!

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