UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

May 6, 2009

THE REAL DEFENSE BUDGET

Winslow Wheeler, Counterpunch - For decades, the media have taken their descriptions of the size of the defense budget straight from the Pentagon's annual press release - without even rudimentary double-checking. This year, they will cite the top-line dollar amount at $534 billion . . .

That number ignores an additional $6 billion the Pentagon will get in "mandatory" appropriations, mostly for personnel-related expenses. The data are available from the Office of Management and Budget, but its press releases are more complicated.

Some, but not all, of the news articles will also ignore the additional $130 billion sought to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Barring last-minute changes to the numbers by Gates and OMB, the correct amount for the president's request for the Pentagon in 2010 will be $670 billion.

The articles will also leave out the money being sought by the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons and other appropriations, such as for the Selective Service and the National Defense Stockpile. Again, not in the DOD press release. Add another $22 billion.

Consider the human costs of current and previous wars in the Department of Veterans Affairs - surely, a legitimate defense cost. Add $106 billion.

Also consider the Department of Homeland Security: Add $43 billion.

What about the military and economic aid to Iraq and Afghanistan, gifts and loans to Israel and others, U.N. peacekeeping costs, and all the rest from the State Department? Add $49 billion.

Also, there is an account buried in the Department of the Treasury to help pay for military retirement. Add about $28 billion.

Each year, we pay interest on the national debt. People disagree, sometimes strenuously, on how much is DOD's share. About 20 percent of federal spending goes to the Pentagon: That's another $57 billion.

Add it all together, and you get $974 billion - almost $1 trillion.

If you want to know how much we spend for defense in a generic sense, you can about double the $534 billion many articles will report.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home