Our military budget is out of control
The Democrats and Republicans rubber-stamped another enormous budget for the Pentagon. They allocated $768 billion for the military in 2022, roughly $24 billion more than the White House requested from Congress. Given all the challenges we face at home, does it make any sense to keep spending so many hundreds of billions on the Pentagon?
In 2020 the U.S. military’s budget accounted for almost 40 percent of the world’s military expenditures. This level of spending has long been excessive, but after a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more Americans than any war we fought, continuing to throw money at the military is an act of willful disregard for the most urgent threats we face.
Congress is projected to spend about $8.5 trillion for the military over the next decade — about half a trillion more than is budgeted for all nonmilitary discretionary programs combined (a category that includes federal spending on education, public health, scientific research, infrastructure, national parks and forests, environmental protection, law enforcement, courts, tax collection, foreign aid, homeland security and health care for veterans).
A great example is the cluster-fuck that is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. A recent audit from the Government Accountability Office found that even the Pentagon’s extended timeline for when the plane might finally go into total production is “not achievable,” and there were more than 850 “open deficiencies” in the project as of November 2020. I wonder if Manchin could explain to his constituents how tolerating such a level of mismanagement is good for our security.
A 2015 internal study found that the Pentagon employed (or hired contractors to use) nearly as many deskbound, back-office people as it had active-duty troops. The report found that it could save $125 billion a year by, among other measures, reducing overstaffing through retirements and attrition. The Pentagon buried that report, according to The Washington Post.
The military-industrial complex is as politically powerful as Dwight Eisenhower warned it would be. (A recent Wall Street Journal headline captured the situation well: “Who Won in Afghanistan? Private Contractors.”) In another trick, the military spreads its contracts to many congressional districts, giving every lawmaker a reason to celebrate excessive military spending.
I’m a veteran who served over 12 years in the Air Force as a firefighter. Fire stations were equipped with kitchens, bunk rooms, bathrooms, and a day room with a big TV. Today it’s not uncommon to see fire stations equipped with multiple dishwashers, a dry heat spa, semi-private bunk rooms as well as a very well-equipped exercise room. Now, I’m for supporting the troops, but dishwashers were our hands when I served, and the idea of semi-private bunk rooms was absurd.
The defense budget needs the be cut by at least 20%. Today’s wars are not about numbers but rather technology. The Pentagon budget has become a massive form of socialism, and some politician somewhere has to have the courage to say so.
Originally published at https://commonsenseandpolitics.com on January 16, 2022.