The US Military “Cut” is Window-dressing

The US press, even the left, seems to have taken as gospel the announced DoD budget cuts.

This is largely smoke an mirrors. The BBC correctly points out that “The defence budget was more than $700bn last year – representing the largest portion of the US federal government‘s discretionary budget.” But their purported $178b cut is not a cut at all. A $14b a year give away to private corporations to develop a future amphibious vehicle program will be dumped. Most of the rest of the reputed $100b savings will be gained over ten years, although most of that will be ‘moved around’ to other parts of the Pentagon: so we’re at less than a $24b cut to the $721b. But that $721b was going to go up for inflation and growth within individual projects.

And the Pentagon budget DOES NOT include the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, nor pensions nor VA benefits, nor Department of Energy and other government activities done under contract for the pentagon. These numbers for FY2011 top $1,398b. This dwarfs WIC payments, roads and bridges, welfare, policing, agricultural policy. The combination of these is less that %10 of the total military spending for FY2011.

The DoD provided chart gives no figures for the special war spending, or defense run programs carried out by other US agencies.  This leaves aside pensions, veteran support services, healthcare and the VA hospital system (the closest we have to a national health service).  Much of these are already woefully underfunded and will be sorely stretched by hundreds of thousands of vets returning with trauma, injuries, and facing an economy in collapse.

Ever wonder why newspapers or the TV never shows you a pie chart when rambling on about government spending? The WRL does one every year. It paints a picture rarely seen by American citizens: one which might give them pause about supporting a dozen huge multinational corporations who do nothing but survive on military contracts (and whose ranks of lobbyists are filled with former politicians).

FY2011 piechart

FY2011 Federal budget: Defence in pink.

Ever wonder why this isn’t reported? Because it is rather stunning evidence that the United States government has become a mechanism of transferring wealth, under threat of foreign attack and being accused of not being patriotic, from the working poor and middle classes to the very rich.

A 10% or less cut spread out over five to ten years — one which will likely be ‘corrected’ back up in midstream — will do little to change that reality.

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