President Biden’s full budget request is still to come, but we can glean a lot from the abbreviated version. One of the most confounding decisions in the president’s budget request was the decision to increase the Pentagon and war budgets, both retaining the massive increases under President Trump and adding to them.

For the first time in a long time, the president’s discretionary budget would provide as much funding for domestic priorities as the Pentagon and war. But that’s still counting all of the other discretionary budget priorities together. Individually, every other priority is a small fraction of the Pentagon budget.

Case in point: the CDC budget, which for obvious reasons should be considered a critical part of our national security spending (if you take those words at their dictionary meanings). The Biden proposal calls for an increase to the CDC budget. But, the proposed increase in the Pentagon budget is bigger than the entire proposed CDC discretionary budget. 

The Biden proposal does a lot right, in calling for increases to domestic spending priorities that have been underfunded for years. But it’s stuck in an outdated version of what national security means, revving up the Pentagon budget at the very time when we need to be shifting funding to security based on clean energy, public health, and racial and economic equality.

Lindsay Koshgarian directs the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. Follow her on Twitter @lindsaykosh.

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