The Untouchable Pentagon

The bright red slices of pie on War Resisters League’s new “Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes” flyer have shrunk well below 50% this year. For years we’ve been demanding a budget that prioritizes humanitarian and social needs over military spending. It almost makes us want to celebrate…almost.

pie chart flyer small graphicBiden’s budget proposal for FY 2023 totals a trillion dollars more than previous budgets with dramatic increases in every department, including tax credits that have really helped the poor in recent years, pandemic relief, big jumps in the Department of Education, food and housing programs, pandemic-related relief, infrastructure and other positive programs.

But — isn’t there always a but — before we pop the champagne, there’s more to consider than just a glance at the pie and percentages.

Ed Hedemann and I analyze the budget and write the pie chart for WRL, and it is a project that becomes more challenging as the federal budget process gets more and more dysfunctional. The President is supposed to release the proposed budget in early February, and Congress is supposed to debate and pass a new budget by the start of the federal fiscal year each October 1.* However, it was not until March 10, five months into the current 2022 fiscal year, that Congress finalized and passed a budget.

Because it takes so long for real spending to be reflected in the published budget, what we see year after year is a proposed budget that is more a policy statement than likely to become reality, with one exception: military spending.

You may recall that the FY2022 budget that Congress just passed included even more for the Pentagon than military or Biden requested, a whopping $730 billion. And, that’s just for the Pentagon; it does not include all those other agencies that we list under current military that have “security” functions. And Congress added another $13.6 billion for the Ukraine, about half of which is military aid. (At the same time, they took out the Covid aid package and, of course, had already refused to pass legislation to address climate change and invest in child care, health care and education.)

So, while the pie itself looks better than most years, percentages don’t tell the full story. On this current flyer, the $978 billion total is $13 billion higher than our analysis last year. It’s obscene.

chart DoD budget 1948 - 2022data from DoD “National Defense Budget
Estimates for FY 2022,” August 2021, table 6.3

It’s no time to celebrate. It’s certainly no time to stop resisting!

— Post by Ruth Benn

* National Priorities Project has a good outline of the process and more budget explanations on their website. They also have a glossary that explains the difference between “mandatory” and “discretionary” spending, both of which add up to “where your income taxes go.” The WRL pie chart includes both. Many other organization show percentages based just on discretionary spending.

P.S. In the course of posting this blog suddenly a rather large word mix-up in the flyer headline jumped out at me (online versions are getting fixed). With thousands printed, we’ll have to live with it — and the embarrassment that we and proofers didn’t catch it. Oopsie…

5 thoughts on “The Untouchable Pentagon”

  1. MIKE LEVINSON says:

    Even 1% for the military is too much! I have been saying since the last millennium, “SLASH MILITARY BUDGET 100%!” I even printed up 1,000s of buttons that said that, but I couldn’t sell any, I couldn’t even give them away. Even peace activists thought I was kidding. “That’s funny!” they would exclaim, to which I would answer, “No Joke! Slash Military Budget 100%!” And I mean it !!!

  2. Unbelievable, there was only one way for the 1% to gain the power (initially started in-camera) and that was by infiltrating as many organizations and groups as possible to direct their actions to hurting —people —property—and events. Lost or misdirected was the 1%, instead it was this terror group or that –lashing out with civilian casualties. Curious, because these acts galvanized the ‘public’ to despise their cause-s —thus making all efforts — dumb. The only known perp was always the power heads behind each and every multinational…..They caused all wars and famines –therefore deaths….because people are drones to them—part of the furniture……so to speak.
    2008 financial crisis proved that —taxpayers are only to be made to feel afraid of ‘something they can’t identify’ and the 1% can easily manipulate politicians/war-lords in and out of government –media and by reducing all human services they can have more taxpayer money for war —pollution —-financial disasters—so all can be bet on via derivatives and other stock manipulators……all about the money–just like every drug-dealer–despot …conman—. Biggest con is yet to out due the 2008 bank fraudster scam —now it’s dictating that money deposited in banks by customers –instantly becomes the ‘property’ or owned by the bank. Check out federal budgets in any year since 2009, and your government as inserted a clauses so any bank can demand a bailout using all depositor’s assets and bank deposits …….Same with every other institution –they now ‘bullshit – the analysis to only target civilians and may or may not set the stage for ‘negative press’ or ‘use of force’ against only members of the public …..The 1% dictate and are now fully ‘above any laws’ (just like the US is allow God-like powers to not account to any people including all tribunals for gross abuse of people….to gain power and toxic control. This is not what so many worked and suffered to achieve from the 60’s on. It’s pathetic and perverse ….

  3. margaret beresford says:

    All the words we cling to such as –sad –despair –being violated —are now -gauged by media ratings–not the importance humanity should and must bring….Movie arses are celebrated –corporate criminals –are celebrated —Victims —dismiss (polite term) are shoveled off—dismissed all because the corporate demonic beasts –bribe beyond —and threaten the very existence of those most elevated in position and thus trusted. So many poor – income – driven – executives have died —with benefits and that’s the rub –families get a ‘life time of insurance’ or nothing and the haunting of loss and such demonic response…..

  4. margaret bersford says:

    Take special care — I am a person of the 60’s and an union rep and complainer for decades …The focus is on evil is NOT relevant—? Banks (who were told not to ‘dabble’ in derivatives) —broke the federal law —-and drained like armed bank thieves —much more than the results of losing money but compromising every bank to be possibly set up to give customer account funds.

  5. margaret beresford says:

    We have long lost the words that result in instant feelings–now those feeling can either become aggressive or not. Far too many decisions are now based on –containment’- always of others ….The new rule should be to govern by –any option that may include the file preview and ‘well-thought-out’ measure’ deemed as needed by the proven situation knowing the authorities are NOT compromised….given the 1% vs the 99% that pay taxes…

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