U.S. Military Budget
by Don Monkerud
Z magazine, April 2005
With his budget for 2006, President Bush
appears to be fulfilling the priorities of the U.S. electorate
by emphasizing the "defense" budget. Upon closer examination,
the budget reveals a drift towards the creation of a nation devoted
to the military.
News accounts proclaim the military and
homeland security "fiscal winners" in the budget, but
an even larger portion of tax dollars are being used for military
purposes than government statistics and charts indicate.
To promote Bush's "war on terrorism,"
the budget boosts military operations in the Department of Defense
(almost 5 percent), the Department of Homeland Security (7 percent),
and the Justice Department (17 percent). The $419.3 billion Department
of Defense budget is 41 percent higher than the pre-September
11, 2001 budget, and 73 percent above the 2000 budget. In comparison
with other countries, these sums are already staggering.
Based on 2003 figures, the world spent
approximately $956 billion on the military, 10 times more than
it spent on development assistance in 2001. Adding the cost of
the military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan to the proposed
2006 "defense" budget, the U.S. will spend $500 billion
on direct military purchases.
That means the U.S. will spend more on
the military than the combined total that the rest of the world
spent in 2003. This is 8 times more than China, which boasts the
world's second largest military, larger than the next 23 nations
combined and 7 times larger than the combined military budgets
of Russia and China. But the U.S. military budget fails to account
for other military expenditures, which, if added together, account
for an even larger share of world spending and a much larger share
of the U. S. budget than indicated.
Recall that Bush's expected $81 billion
"supplement" for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan
was added to the military budget, which at $500 billion is, in
current dollars, almost 10 percent higher than at the height of
the Cold War and 15 percent higher than during the Vietnam War.
Other money in the budget devoted to military spending includes
the cost for Defense/Civil programs ($44.5 billion); Homeland
Security ($33.3 billion); and Veterans Affairs ($68.3 billion).
This pushes the total military budget to $646 billion. Add $4
billion in foreign military financing from the Department of State
and the total reaches $650 billion.
Other spending is hidden within departments,
such as Justice, Energy, and NASA. While it will require experts
to reveal these hidden funds, the cost of the bonds to pay off
past military spending also needs to be included in the total
cost of the U.S. military. In an article in the San Francisco
Chronicle, Robert Higgs calculates that debt-financed defense
spending amounts to almost $139 billion, which brings the total
amount that the U.S. spends on military projects in 2006 to $789
In other words, the U.S. spends 30.7 percent
of total government funding on the military, much more than the
17 percent that calculations reveal. This is larger than the Health
and Human Services or Social Security.
As a larger proportion of U.S. resources
goes to the military, domestic programs are being cut and the
wealthy are given additional tax breaks ($26 billion more in 2006).
Over the next five years, Bush plans to cut $212 billion from
domestic programs, such as Medicaid, food stamps for 300,000 low-income
families, and child care assistance for 300,000 children. Rather
than paying for military increases with taxes, they are allowed
to become part of the deficit, which will continue to run over
$400 billion a year.
Military costs could go even higher. The
Administration's budget figures exclude any future cost for the
occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan-already running $300 billion-or
the cost of new military adventures against North Korea, Syria,
or Iran, which could easily add billions to the military budget.
Such expenses do nothing to make the country safer. According
to World Markets Research Center, which released the World Terrorism
Index, the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq "has exacerbated
anti-U. S. sentiment."
Spending vast sums of money on the military
may not make the U.S. safer but it will create more demand for
military invasions and occupations and a spiraling need for more
Don Monkerud is an Aptos, California-based
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