The Pentagon Ate Our Government

Looking at the New Federal Budget

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Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

Courtesy of Stephen Semler, let’s take a look at the federal budget recently signed into law by President Biden:

The biggest boost in spending from 2023 to 2024 went to the Pentagon. Of course! Even though the Pentagon has yet to pass an audit. Throw money at it as a reward!

Let’s do some basic math. Add the Pentagon budget, Homeland Security, Military Construction and the VA, and State/Foreign Ops and you get $1.118 trillion. (Basically, the State Department is a tiny branch of the Pentagon.) But even that figure is low, since some Energy spending goes to nuclear weapons, and I can’t imagine that spending on science doesn’t have military applications.

Let’s go with the $1.118 trillion figure as a rough estimate of military spending. Adding up all the numbers of money spent produces a total of $1.627 trillion. That means the percentage of money spent on the Pentagon and related military matters amounts to 68.7% of federal discretionary spending.

Yes, the Pentagon ate our government.

Of course, not included in the figures above is mandatory federal spending on the rapidly escalating national debt, Medicare and Medicaid, and Social Security. Nevertheless, the rough figures here are a telling indicator of the dominance of militarism and military spending in our lives. When nearly seventy cents on the dollar goes to empire, internal security, wars, foreign military sales, and the like, there’s little money left for other concerns like better education and transportation or safer water and a cleaner environment.

Well, America gets what it pays for. More military bases, more wars, more weapons, and more bloodshed globally. Add in some apocalyptic nuclear weapons and now I’m really having a bad Monday.

Update (1910 EST): Courtesy of Stephen Semler once again, my guesstimates above were close to being spot on, as shown in his new post, which I’ll attach here:

Sixty-eight percent of the FY2024 discretionary budget is for military and law enforcement-related programs.

This $1.1 trillion total includes the Pentagon and Military Construction/VA spending bills and parts of four others:

  • Homeland Security: Title II — CBP, ICE, TSA, Coast Guard, Secret Service ($55 billion); Title III — State Homeland Security Grant Program, Urban Area Security Initiative, Nonprofit Security Grant Program, Public Transportation Security Assistance, Port Security Grants ($1.5 billion)
  • Commerce, Justice, Science: Title II — Marshals Service, National Security Division, Interagency Law Enforcement, FBI, DEA, ATF, Federal Prison System, State and Local Law Enforcement Activities ($32.3 billion)
  • Energy and Water: Atomic energy military activities ($32.8 billion)
  • State, Foreign Operations: Title IV — Foreign military aid ($8.9 billion)

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools. He writes at Bracing Views.