Tuesday, February 05, 2008

That's a fact jack

At Slate, Fred Kaplan considers the size of President Bush's current military budget proposal.

The official amount requested is, shall we say, rather more than spare change, but Kaplan considers that real military spending is far higher:

As usual, it's about $200 billion more than most news stories are reporting. For the proposed fiscal year 2009 budget, which President Bush released today, the real size is not, as many news stories have reported, $515.4 billion—itself a staggering sum—but, rather, $713.1 billion.
Adjusted for inflation this is the largest military budget since the Second World War. And it does not include the supplemental funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

To put this into perspective, the president from the party of 'small government' plans to spend nearly as much on the military alone (excluding the current wars, remember), as Spiegel points out, as Germany spends on its entire federal budget.

Now, I'm not against military spending per se (it's a nasty world out there), but one might well question the amount, considering that the US and its allies are outspending the potentially threatening nations by a fairly hefty amount.

And there is reason to doubt that the good citizens of America are really getting their money's worth. As Kaplan points out:

There is another way to probe this question. Look at the budget share distributed to each of the three branches of the armed services. The Army gets 33 percent, the Air Force gets 33 percent, and the Navy gets 34 percent.

As I have noted before (and, I'm sure, will again), the budget has been divvied up this way, plus or minus 2 percent, each and every year since the 1960s. Is it remotely conceivable that our national-security needs coincide so precisely—and so consistently over the span of nearly a half-century—with the bureaucratic imperatives of giving the Army, Air Force, and Navy an even share of the money? Again, the question answers itself. As the Army's budget goes up to meet the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Air Force's and Navy's budgets have to go up by roughly the same share, as well. It would be a miracle if this didn't sire a lot of waste and extravagance.

Yes. A miracle.

Another faith-based policy in action.

1 comment:

Dale said...

It's astonishing what this country spends on the military. And it's all the more galling to see, as we are already seeing given the state of the political cycle, that certain politicians -- namely, Clinton and Obama -- are already being asked to cite chapter and verse on how they will pay for their paltry repairs of the social safety net. This country's politics are insane.