The U.S. spends far more money than any other country in the world on its military. That spending comes at a huge opportunity cost — but the Trump administration wants to spend even more.
Lindsay Koshgarian, who directs the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, discussed President Trump’s proposal to increase military spending in a video by Senator Bernie Sanders’ social media team.
William Hartung of the Center for International Policy also appears, along with Senator Sanders himself.
Hartung noted that if you add up “the Pentagon’s main budget, the war budget, and nuclear warheads,” the military budget is around $700 billion — more than half of all discretionary spending, noted Sanders.
The Trump administration wants to raise the Pentagon base budget alone to over $700 billion in the coming years, and plans to spend over $1 trillion on nuclear warheads over several years of modernization — even though, as Hartung noted, the U.S. arsenal is already sufficient to deter attacks from any other country on earth.
That’s hugely out of step with actual defense needs, Koshgarian argued. “The U.S. military accounts for 37 percent of military spending in the entire world, even though the United States only has less than 5 percent of the world’s population,” said Koshgarian.
From a comparative perspective, U.S. military spending is three times as much as China’s, nine times as much as Russia’s, and 48 times as much as Iran’s.
Hartung makes a point to refute “the notion that [military spending] is all focused on the troops.” Instead, he said, “a lot of this [goes to] arms producers, private military companies, and people who do bureaucratic tasks.” All told, some $300 million of the Pentagon’s budget “goes to corporations” and “other private sector contractors,” calculated Hartung.
America’s “single biggest federal contractor, Lockheed Martin, cashed in on $43 billion in 2016,” noted Koshgarian.
One reason for these huge expenditures on contractors? The roughly $90 million the weapons industry spends on lobbying annually.
Koshgarian, Sanders, and Hartung all see better ways of using the money Trump has earmarked for an increased military budget.
Hartung and Sanders held up infrastructure and education, while Koshgarian noted that the proposed military budget is large enough to send “1 million students to four-year public universities, for free.”
“Instead of pouring a trillion dollars into nuclear weapons,” she concluded, “let’s pour that trillion dollars into our communities.”