For starters, it’s about an $80 billion increase in the Pentagon’s budget from 2017 to 2019. In real terms, that’s about 11 percent — a larger two-year increase than the DoD received during the height of the Reagan military buildup in the mid-1980s. To put this massive increase in perspective, here are a few other examples of what you could buy for $80 billion:
- Any country’s military for a year, save for China;
- Two U.S. State Departments;
- The gross domestic product of any one of more than 100 countries;
- Time Warner Cable;
- Linkedin, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Twitter;
- Donald Trump’s fortune 25 times over;
- A $245 check for every person in the U.S.
While the increase alone is staggering, the total amount of funding Congress and the President just agreed to give the military is truly impressive. According to historical data from the Department of Defense, and controlling for inflation, $686 billion is far more than President Reagan ever spent on the military during the Cold War and more than the U.S. military spent at the height of the wars in Vietnam and Korea. In fact, in all the decades after World War II, this level of military spending is second only to spending during the peak years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. …
Even without an audit, there are plenty of areas of waste that we already know about, like the $125 billion in excess bureaucratic overhead that the Pentagon tried to hide from Congress after it was uncovered by an agency advisory board, or the 600,000-pluspoorly regulated private contractors employed by the Defense Department, many of whom do work that duplicates the efforts of government employees. If Defense Secretary Mattis takes real steps to eliminate redundancies of this kind, we’ll know that he’s serious about rooting out waste.
Putting the Pentagon’s Pennies in Perspective