Monday, February 05, 2007

The Military Budget

Bush's $481.4 billion Pentagon budget is 20% of the total budget. Over at Slate, Fred Kaplan points out that the number is a sham and that the actual requested military budget is $739 billion.

Kaplan also points out that this money, including money for a new aircraft carrier (we already have the biggest and best carrier fleet and we're the only nation with carriers that's talking about building another one) is made possible by China investing its huge currency reserves in our debt.

A few years ago a currency analyst told me something interesting, though I dismissed it at the time. Aside from some market fluctuations, he said, the value of the dollar against other currencies is really just a reflection of the US military. I guess that's what Bush is trying to do -- he's trying to over-militarize in an attempt to make up for our country's economic shortcomings.


At 1:04 PM , Blogger Jon E. said...

So the news media have finally noticed that the gap between rich and poor in this country is growing (which it's been doing since the mid 1970s). Maybe we can thank John Edwards and his "Two Americas" stump speech for that. And they've also discovered that most Americans are now less than thrilled with the Iraq War.

But so far I haven't seen anything in the mainstream press putting those two together. In terms of direct dollar payments, the cost of the Iraq war is at LEAST $500 billion. (More comprehensive estimates put it at maybe twice that.) But if we spent had spsent $350 billion a year on defense over the past six years (rather than $500 billion) and hadn't invaded Iraq, what could we have done with that trillion dollars at home?

Under a fiscally responsible conservative government, we could have given huge tax cuts to families making up to $100,000 dollars a year. And we could have balanced the damn budget so that America's economic future is less dependent on Chinese investors holding American bonds (which they will likely stop doing at some point).

Under a fiscally responsible liberal government, we could have balanced the damn budget. And we could have invested a huge chunk of money in creating a truly independent social security trust fund that would have stablized social security and kept old people out of poverty through the twenty-first century. And/or we could have invested more money into programs that kept poor kids in school and out of the drug trade. (Which would have paid for itself in the long run.) We could have devoted time and money to fixing our schools for all students (which would have paid for itself in the long run). And/or we could have put the money into a single-payer health program for all Americans, or at least for all Americans under 18 and over 65 (which, again, would have paid for itself in the long run).

But we didn't. And we don't show any signs of doing it any time soon.


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