Even without the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are fast surpassing half a trillion dollars, U.S. military spending is now the largest item in the federal budget.
Officially, it is the second highest item after Social Security payments. But Social Security is a self-financing trust fund. So, in reality, military spending is the highest budget item.
The Pentagon budget for the current fiscal year (2007) is about $456 billion. President Bush’s proposed increase of 10% for next year will raise this figure to over half a trillion dollars, that is, $501.6 billion for fiscal year 2008. A proposed supplemental appropriation to pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq “brings proposed military spending for FY 2008 to $647.2 billion, the highest level of military spending since the end of World War II—higher than Vietnam, higher than Korea, higher than the peak of the Reagan buildup.”
Using official budget figures, William D. Hartung, Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute in New York, provides a number of helpful comparisons:
- Proposed U.S. military spending for FY 2008 is larger than military spending by all of the other nations in the world combined.
- At $141.7 billion, this year's proposed spending on the Iraq war is larger than the military budgets of China and Russia combined. Total U.S. military spending for FY2008 is roughly ten times the military budget of the second largest military spending country in the world, China.
- Proposed U.S. military spending is larger than the combined gross domestic products (GDP) of all 47 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
- The FY 2008 military budget proposal is more than 30 times higher than all spending on State Department operations and non-military foreign aid combined.
- The FY 2008 military budget is over 120 times higher than the roughly $5 billion per year the U.S. government spends on combating global warming.
- The FY 2008 military spending represents 58 cents out of every dollar spent by the U.S. government on discretionary programs: education, health, housing assistance, international affairs, natural resources and environment, justice, veterans’ benefits, science and space, transportation, training/employment and social services, economic development, and several more items.
[Excerpt of an article by Ismael Hossein-zadeh, an economics professor at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa]