How Much Of The Us Budget Goes To The...

How Much Of The Us Budget Goes To The Military


Us Military Spending History

Why Does America Love Its Military So Much?

Heres a history of the U.S. military budget and how its been spent for the last few years:


Lots of things influence how much of the budget is spent and where. For example, in the early 2000s, spending rose with the attack on the World Trade Center and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the economies of both the United States and Iraq underwent changes, so did military spending. In 2016, the United States efforts against ISIS caused an increase in spending, though the all-time high for total military spending in the U.S. was in 2011, despite the winding-down of the Iraq War.

Budget Basics: National Defense

The United States spent $725 billion on national defense during fiscal year 2020 according to the Office of Management and Budget, which amounts to 11 percent of federal spending. That level of spending indicates that lawmakers have prioritized national defense as a key part of our budget indeed, the United States spends more on defense, relative to the size of its economy, than any other member of the G-7 . This explainer looks at the components of the U.S. defense budget.

It Is Well To Remember That The Real Bill Includes Not Just Dod Spending But Va Intelligence And More But Those Who Would Cut Spending Must Also Propose A New Strategy

It is common in nearly every election cycle for at least one candidate to claim that the United States spends too much on defense. Elizabeth Warren said it last year in a Foreign Affairs article, Bernie Sanders in a Vox interview, and we are likely to hear it again as the general election approaches. Unfortunately, these claims almost always fail to explain just how much America spends on national security, why it traditionally spends so much, or what a major budget cut really entails.

Yes, the United States spends a lot on defense. Probably even more than you think. In fiscal 2019, the Defense Departments budget, plus money appropriated for nominally unanticipated operational expenses, was $686 billion. A DOD chart shows that amount as part of a trend of generally rising budgets since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, with some reductions after drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan began.

To put U.S. military spending in context, it is useful to compare what it spends to that of others. In fiscal 2018, the Defense Departments budget of $649 billion not even counting the contingency fund was larger than the combined spending of the next seven largest militaries: $609 billion .

Americas nuclear weapons and naval reactors are maintained not by the Pentagon by the Department of Energys National Nuclear Security Administration, which also works to counter proliferation and nuclear terrorism. Adding NNSAs $15.2 billion makes the total $902.2 billion.

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Where Tax Dollars Are Spent


Tax dollars are collected by the federal government and apportioned by Congress in the federal budget to fund various governmental programs.

Tax dollars are collected by the federal government and apportioned by Congress in the federal budget to fund various governmental programs. When the budget exceeds tax revenue, the government typically borrows money. A large part of the budget goes towards the same governmental programs every year, making the approximate percentage of the budget used on those programs easy to predict.

House Passes $768 Billion Defense Policy Bill

Federal Spending: Where Does the Money Go

Lawmakers tossed out some bipartisan provisions as they rushed to advance the bill, which would increase the Pentagons budget by more than what President Biden had requested.

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By Catie Edmondson

WASHINGTON The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a $768 billion defense policy bill after lawmakers abruptly dropped proposals that would have required women to register for the draft, repealed the 2002 authorization of the Iraq war and imposed sanctions for a Russian gas pipeline, in a late-year drive to salvage a bipartisan priority.

The legislation, unveiled hours before the vote, put the Democratic-led Congress on track to increase the Pentagons budget by roughly $24 billion above what President Biden had requested, angering antiwar progressives who had hoped that their partys control of the White House and both houses of Congress would lead to cuts to military programs after decades of growth.

Instead, the measure provides significant increases for initiatives intended to counter China and bolster Ukraine, as well as the procurement of new aircraft and ships, underscoring the bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill for continuing to spend huge amounts of federal money on defense initiatives, even as Republicans lash Democrats for spending freely on social programs.

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Why Does The Us Spend So Much On Military

One of the reasons the defense budget is so large is that we expect our military to be able to do many things at once. During the 1960s, national defense spending averaged 8 to 9% of GDP, including war costs and nuclear weapons costs. In the 1970s it began at around 8% and declined to just under 5% of GDP.

Nearly Half The Pentagon Budget Goes To Contractors

The following first appeared at

Heres a question for you: How do you spell boondoggle?

The answer : P-e-n-t-a-g-o-n.

Hawks on Capitol Hill and in the U.S. military routinely justify increases in the Defense Departments already munificent budget by arguing that yet more money is needed to support the troops. If youre already nodding in agreement, let me explain just where a huge chunk of the Pentagon budgethundreds of billions of dollarsreally goes. Keep in mind that its your money were talking about.

The answer couldnt be more straightforward: it goes directly to private corporations and much of it is then wasted on useless overhead, fat executive salaries, and startling cost overruns on weapons systems and other military hardware that, in the end, wont even perform as promised. Too often the result is weapons that arent needed at prices we cant afford. If anyone truly wanted to help the troops, loosening the corporate grip on the Pentagon budget would be an excellent place to start.

And remember: the Pentagon buys more than just weapons. Health care companies like Humana , UnitedHealth Group , and Health Net cash in as well, and theyre joined by, among others, pharmaceutical companies like McKesson and universities deeply involved in military-industrial complex research like MIT and Johns Hopkins .

Modernizing the Military-Industrial Complex

Military Spending Generates Jobs

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What Does The Future Of Social Security And Medicare Look Like

Each year, the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees publish theirAnnual Reporton the financial status of Social Security and Medicare. The Boardsâ projections indicate that spending will continue to increase. As the average age of Americans increases, more funding is needed to support entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and retirement and disability services for both military and civil servants. In 2020, the cost of the Social Security and Medicare programs was$2.03 trillion.

The majority of Social Security and Medicare funding comes from tax revenue and interest on trust fund reserves. For2020, income for these programs was$2.02 trillion. However, costs exceeded revenue starting in 2018 for Medicare Part A and are expected to exceed revenue beginning in 2021 for Social Security. This will require the federal government to begin drawing down trust fund balances in order to continue paying full benefits. While Medicare Parts B and D are largely funded by general revenues and beneficiary premiums, the Boards project that Medicare Part A trust fund will be depleted by 2026and the Social Security trust fund will be depleted by2034.

It is important to note that these projections do not include the possible impacts the COVID-19 pandemic may have on the Social Security and Medicare programs.

Learn The Budget’s Components And Its Impact On The Us Economy

What If SpaceX Had the US Military’s $600 Billion Budget?

    Kimberly Amadeo is an expert on U.S. and world economies and investing, with over 20 years of experience in economic analysis and business strategy. She is the President of the economic website World Money Watch. As a writer for The Balance, Kimberly provides insight on the state of the present-day economy, as well as past events that have had a lasting impact.

        Government spending is broken down into three categories: mandatory spending, discretionary spending, and interest on the national debt. Each category of spending has different subcategories.

        President Joe Biden released a $6.011 trillion federal budget proposal in May 2021 for fiscal year 2022. The U.S. government estimates it will receive $4.174 trillion in revenue through Sept. 30, 2022, creating a $1.837 trillion deficit for Oct. 1, 2022. The Congressional Budget Office predicted before Biden’s budget proposal was released that the deficit would be $2.3 trillion.

        The estimate has changed to $3.4 trillion as a result of the American Rescue Plan. Mandatory spending is budgeted at $4.018 trillion. Discretionary spending is forecasted to be $1.688 trillion. Interest on the national debt is estimated to be $305 billion.

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        The Us Should Cut The Military Budget To Fund Build Back Better Programs

        The Pentagon has come to expect reliable, generous financial support that keeps them prosperous. Doesnt the American public deserve the same?

        After months of negotiations, Congress is struggling to come up with a plan to fund the Build Back Better Act. Rather than forcing more cuts that would further limit the bills transformative potential, throughout the process legislators have been considering funding sources that just a few years ago would have been unthinkable. With progressive congressional power at a relative high and the experience of Covid-19 not quite behind us, its a perfect moment to look to the defense budget as a way to fund the recovery effort the US sorely needs.

        The Pentagon budget is the one area where massive, long-term government spending is not only considered totally normal, but suggestions to change the status quo are still mostly balked at. Negotiations over the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act are also ongoing, and the contrast between the range of alternatives being seriously considered is striking. Topline numbers are higher even than the presidents budget request, which itself is $13bn more than the final Trump military budget request, and it preserves the Trump administrations nuclear weapons programs that the Democrats ran on cancelling only a few short months ago.

        Congress could free up some cash by cancelling the the sea-launched nuclear missile the navy says it has no use for

        • Emma Claire Foley is Global Zero Research Associate

        Budget Of The Us Government

        Every year, Congress begins work on a federal budget for the next fiscal year. The federal governments fiscal year runs from October 1 of one calendar year through September 30 of the next.

        The work actually begins in the executive branch the year before the budget is to go into effect.

        • Federal agencies create budget requests and submit them to the White House Office of Management and Budget .
        • OMB refers to the agency requests as it develops the presidents budget proposal.

        The president submits his budget proposal to Congress early the next year. Then Congress, which the Constitution puts in charge of spending and borrowing, starts its work.

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        Contractors Are The Biggest Winners

        Almost no one wants to risk being seen as the person who cuts the defense budget: 88 senators voted in favor of the defense authorization for fiscal year 2022, and only 11 voted against. Over the past 60 years, the defense spending bill has passed each year with bipartisan support.

        The military-industrial complex has been shaping Washington for almost a century. Contractors are the biggest winners, says Hartung of the Center for International Policy, who pointed out that about half the budget goes to contractors, who are outsourced to do everything from logistics to office support, intelligence work and private security. According to the Congressional Research Service, there are 464,500 full-time contractors working for the Defense Department.

        The role of lobbying cant be overstated. The defense industry spent $98.9 million lobbying so far in 2021, according to Open Secrets. Lockheed Martin, one of the largest five military companies in the country, has a presence in every state, a strategy that defangs critics.

        Theres also the millions of dollars each year that military contractors donate to Washington think tanks. Many experts who regularly appear in the media are on the defense industry dole, according to the Intercept. Lawmakers who receive campaign donations from defense interests are more likely to vote to increase spending.

        National Defense Spending Remains A Top Priority Of The Federal Government

        united states

        The national defense budget funds a wide range of activities and represents a significant share of overall federal spending. Indeed, the United States spends more than any other advanced economy in this area, not only in raw dollars, but also as a share of the economy. While the appropriate level of defense funding is part of an ongoing debate, one thing is clear national defense spending is currently one of the top priorities of the U.S. federal government.

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        The Department Of Defense Base Budget

        The Department of Defense is the government body to which all military branches except the Coast Guard belong. Heres what they do with their piece of the military budget:

        • Healthcare, retirement, housing, and other benefits. Considering all of these, the average enlisted personnel in the military gets about $59,000 in compensation while officers get around $108,000.
        • Trim down unnecessary infrastructure to save money.
        • Missile defense, both nationally and regionally.
        • Programs within individual military branches, such as the Joint Strike Fighter program of the Air Force.
        • The training of security forces in the Middle East to help hold ground against ISIS.
        • Replenishing maritime security efforts in Asia.
        • Improving cyber security.
        • Staying involved in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization .

        The Biggest Military Budgets As A Percentage Of Gdp

          No country worldwide comes close to matching the United States in military expenditure. In 2014, US military spending reached $571 billion, a huge distance ahead of second placed China’s $129.4 billion. However, when military budgets are viewed as a percentage of a nation’s GDP, things become very different indeed.

          Saudi Arabia is spending more on its armed forces than ever before, boosting its military budget by 17 percent last year. The military now amounts to at least 10.4 percent of the kingdom’s GDP, according to an estimate from SIPRI. By contrast, Washington’s enormous military expenditure “only” amounts to 3.5 percent of GDP. In China, that falls to 2.1 percent.

          Israel spent around $23 billion on its armed forces in 2014 and SIPRI estimated that this amounted to 5.2 percent of its GDP. Russia has embarked on a huge military spending binge which was estimated to have reached 4.5 percent of its GDP in 2014. This year, according to budget data, that has increased substantially to more than 9 percent of quarterly GDP, a rate of spending that is surely unsustainable.

          *Click below to enlarge

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          Congress And The Department Of Defense

          The Department of Defense is not the most efficient spender out there, and they know this. About a third of their budget is spent on just maintaining equipment and personnel. By 2024, rising retirement costs are predicted to soak up the DoDs budget completely. In their efforts to save money, the DoD could and should reduce spending in personnel and maintenance, such as the number of civilians it employs, the amount of benefits per soldier, and the number of operating military bases. But Congress has proven to be a stumbling block in these endeavors. For one, theyre hesitant to shut down military bases because it will cost the locale numerous jobs. Theyre also hesitant to approve pay cuts, afraid it will discourage people from joining the military and therefore cripple our national security the same goes for downsizing the military, which is another way the DoD could improve its budget.

          What Does The Us Spend The Most Money On

          What NASA Could Accomplish If It Had The US Military’s $600 Billion Budget

          As Figure A suggests, Social Security is the single largest mandatory spending item, taking up 38% or nearly $1,050 billion of the $2,736 billion total. The next largest expenditures are Medicare and Income Security, with the remaining amount going to Medicaid, Veterans Benefits, and other programs.

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          Emergency And Supplemental Spending

          The recent military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were largely funded through supplementary spending bills that supplemented the annual military budget requests for each fiscal year. However, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were categorized as “overseas contingency operations” in the starting of the fiscal year 2010, and the budget is included in the federal budget.

          By the end of 2008, the U.S. had spent approximately $900 billion in direct costs on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The government also incurred indirect costs, which include interests on additional debt and incremental costs, financed by the Veterans Administration, of caring for more than 33,000 wounded. Some experts estimate the indirect costs will eventually exceed the direct costs. As of June 2011, the total cost of the wars was approximately $1.3 trillion.

          Audit Of Implementation Of Budget For 2010

          The US Government Accountability Office was unable to provide an audit opinion on the 2010 financial statements of the US Government because of ‘widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties, and other limitations’. The GAO cited as the principal obstacle to its provision of an audit opinion ‘serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense that made its financial statements unauditable’.

          In FY 2010, six out of thirty-three DoD reporting entities received unqualified audit opinions.

          Chief financial officer and Under Secretary of DefenseRobert F. Hale acknowledged enterprise-wide problems with systems and processes, while the DoD’s Inspector General reported ‘material internal control weaknesses … that affect the safeguarding of assets, proper use of funds, and impair the prevention and identification of fraud, waste, and abuse’. Further management discussion in the FY 2010 DoD Financial Report states ‘it is not feasible to deploy a vast number of accountants to manually reconcile our books’ and concludes that ‘although the financial statements are not auditable for FY 2010, the Department’s financial managers are meeting warfighter needs’.

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