Source: Orlando Independent Examiner
Have you ever wondered where your tax dollars go?
Health care? Social Security? An economic stimulus bill? Wars? Bailing out Wall Street banks? Education? Our nation’s infrastructure? Each may be a good guess based on the issues that get attention in the mainstream media.
The correct answer may be that 53% of the federal tax being collected in 2010 has already been allocated for defense spending.
The 2011 military budget, by the way, is the largest in history, not just in actual dollars, but in inflation adjusted dollars, exceeding even the spending in World War II, when the nation was on an all-out military footing. Military spending in all its myriad forms works out to represent 53.3% of total US federal spending.
That would mean the military’s share of the approximately $3 trillion 2011 budget is about $1.6 trillion.
On the other hand, anyone can find a handy fact sheet posted on the white house’s web site that puts the department of defense’s share of the budget at a “mere” $708 billion, seemingly bringing the cost down to about 24 cents on the tax dollar.
So, who’s telling the truth? The answer is that both are, depending on how one looks at federal budget allocations.
Just like banks, airlines or a sleazy car dealer, the pentagon and white house’s initial invoice does not include hidden costs and amenities, but the final bill does. One of those add-ons is called supplemental spending.
A war appropriations bill to supplementally finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for an additional $106 billion was signed by President Obama last year. The administration is already poised to ask congress for another $35 billion this year, which they will surely get. There are estimates that supplemental war funding could reach $300 billion by the end of 2010. You can view a cost of war counter here. If supplemental war spending is based on what was spent last year, that brings the defense portion of the check to $814 billion.
A closer look reveals that the 2011 defense budget also does not include: spending on veterans affairs – that means VA hospitals, benefits, etc., for any ex-military personnel that are no longer on active or reserve status. The bill for that is $60 billion. That $60 billion does not include any public funds spent on veterans or immediate family that collect public benefits, such as social security.
Homeland security, judging by the title, can be added to the defense part of the check for approximately another $4.3 billion, bringing the bill to approximately $878.3 billion. So can NASA, for another $19 billion, since their primary function is deploying military satellites. And the National Intelligence Program for another (classified) amount, estimated at about $75 billion. Even the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gets billed separately at about $5 billion.
Without even considering the costs of foreign military aid to nations such as Israel, Pakistan, Egypt and Columbia, or the costs of purchasing services from private contractors such as Xe (formerly Blackwater) to provide security in occupied countries, or Halliburton to rebuild them, defense spending is already well over $900 billion. There are 750 U.S. military bases in 50 nations and not including Iraq and Afghanistan, approximately 255,000 service members stationed abroad. There are 116,000 in Europe and nearly 100,000 in Japan and South Korea.
Like all government spending, of course, the defense portion has to be financed, so when money is borrowed from whomever or wherever to pay for the $900+ billion tab, add more interest to the approximately $250-400 billion in interest already owed through debt created by defense spending. The huge sum will be borrowed, mostly from China and Japan, to which the U.S. already owes $1.5 trillion.
Having trouble keeping up with your bill yet? That’s because it is designed that way. It gets even more complicated when you have to consider that Social Security expenditures are included in the overall budget, even though it is a trust that is raised and spent seperately from income taxes. What you pay by April 15, 2010 goes to the federal funds portion of the budget. That makes military spending seem smaller in comparison to overall government spending. That also easily puts the figure at about 53 percent.
No matter which figure you want to believe – the $1.6 trillion or the $708 billion, it may be enlightening to put that in two other perspectives.
One is that, according to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the U.S. accounted for 48% of global military spending in 2008, compared to 5% for Russia, 8% for China, and 20% for all our European allies combined.
The second is that, according to the non-profit National Priorities Project, less than half of the $708 billion estimate – $300 billion, could have paid for health care for 131,780,734 American children for a year, or for 53,872,201 students to receive Pell Grants of $5,550, or for the salaries and benefits of 4,911,552 elementary school teachers for that same year. Restoring roads and bridges in this country to the condition of past decades and keeping them in decent repair so that they do not fall apart would cost $166 billion a year for the next five years.
Tax day is almost here, and whether 24 cents of your hard-earned dollars, 53 cents, or something in between goes toward military spending, there may be a few things to think about. Do we really need to spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined on “defense?” Could investing our tax $’s to improve our country within our borders provide a better return of investment than occupying countries halfway around the world? If U.S. taxpayers knew how much they are paying for defense and the wars through direct taxes instead of bookkeeping fraud, how long would this continue?
Let’s not forget the human costs of war either…
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