Perennial Budget Cut Survivor: The Defense Department

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The budget remains the hot button issue in Washington, and cuts all across the board appear likely, except for defense. Military spending makes up approximately 20 percent of the federal budget, and will likely exceed $700 billion in 2011 — that's 40 percent of the world's total military spending. Where does all that money go to? Larry Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and former Assistant Secretary of Defense under the Reagan administration explains.


Larry Korb

Produced by:

David J Fazekas

Comments [15]

Matthew Laos from Tucson, Arizona

The President and the Nation would be better served if he nominates a person who has a grasp of the big picture facing the US and its allies in the world at large and who is not the same stale background beholden to interests in only Defense. Since Hillary is not interested, I would recommend highly, our UN Ambassador Susan Rice who has the fortitude to help the Nation meet it challenges of Today while preparing us for the Battles of Tomorrow.

Apr. 14 2011 03:09 AM
Angel from Miami, FL

It doesn't take long for someone to divert the conversation from a financial one to some theoretical "nation building" plan to be implemented by a military force.

When we talk about determining the budget for a city's police force we never add the cost of renovating low income/high crime areas.

Our DOD budget needs to be reduced. And some of our "wars" should be handled by small covert teams, especially when dealing with terrorists which don't require Cold War-sized missions or expenditures.

Apr. 13 2011 09:38 AM
Paul from US of A

At issue is: how much spending is defense/procurements related,
and how much is fighting terrorism/ international crime ( Bribes, wasted efforts and installing a 'new' government / attempting to install a democracy ( which isn't wanted) ?)

It seems to me we are tying the hands of the US military as well as have problems IDing 'who is the enemy'...
I humbly submit, if we alter our foreign trade policy and give the common folk/non-combatants in Afghanistan and Iraq a sense of ownership in their future, they might be more content and less likely to start a fight if they have something valuable to loose...... like a secure home and electric power, etc, etc.

. We also need to respect 'em a bit - its their land and country, and we are in their country.
If they don't want us there, lets pull out. BUT..... if an incident like 9-11 happens, its "unrestricted" war. Let the citizens police themselves and limit their radicals and rebels, warlords, etc.

Apr. 12 2011 06:48 PM
Angel from Miami, FL

The majority of Americans are paying for the most powerful military force in the world which in turn protects the interests of just 400 wealthy Americans who continue to raise the price of products Americans use while employing fewer Americans to make those products. At some point, those 400 through incorporation and the rights as provided by the Supreme Court and Congress will dismantle the middle class and maintain the military as their protectors against all challengers foreign and "domestic". Welcome to the Feudal States of America! Politicians and actors will become the new idiocracy and the rest of us can savor retirement-free serfdom. Did I just blow your mind?!

Apr. 12 2011 02:16 PM
Angel from Miami, FL

How does the sale of weapons affect the defense budget? What happens to the profits of weapon sales to other countries? If it goes back the the DOD why doesn't it affect the funds it keeps receiving from taxpayers? If they're going to make money from selling the old stuff we don't use anymore why doesn't that money replace the same amount they get in tax revenue? When I look at it that way, our armed forces [command] seem to be as corrupt/autonomous as the armed forces of countries like Egypt or Tunisia.

Apr. 12 2011 02:04 PM
Stephen Gosling

If their is a threat to American Security. Where is it? What is it? If their is a Terrorist Threat, where are the Terrorists? I do not see that we can justify spending all this money. The biggest Con Game in history.

Apr. 12 2011 01:34 PM

If the US halved the defense budget there would be a worldwide arms race and the emergence of political and economic alliances that would disadvantage the United States. In other words, it is better to spend on defense now to protect our allies than spend later to liberate them.

Apr. 12 2011 01:05 PM
Someone Else

Listener, my opinion of NATO and its actions in Libya isn't relevant to this discussion. My statement regarding halving our military budget also says nothing about our contributions to NATO.

The cuts specifically mentioned in the story wouldn't impact NATO or our actions in Libya. As far as I'm aware, our 50,000 troops in Germany haven't been deployed to Libya.

Apr. 12 2011 12:46 PM

Someone Else
Do you support NATO and its actions in Libya? If we halved the Defense budget, NATO's budget would be more than halved and no operations would be possible in Libya.

Apr. 12 2011 11:44 AM
Someone Else

Listener, did you listen to the story? It wasn't about doing away with the DoD, it was about cutting some of its ridiculous spending. If we halved its budget we would still have the most powerful military in the world. Most of the other major powers are our allies, and half our military budget is 5 times China's military budget.

Apr. 12 2011 11:08 AM
Kathy from NJ

It stunning how this fact fails to make it into the daily discussion.. Gee, how much waste, cost overruns, not to mention corruption and collusion exits in this bloated and disgusting budget. Austerity must come from all programs!

Apr. 12 2011 09:19 AM

We have no need for a fire department...until there is a fire. The Education Department (founded 1979) and Energy Department (founded 1977) are not the job of the federal government and are wastes of money but the Defense Department is needed especially while the Middle-East and China are looming challenges. BTW...isn't the internet a happy result of defense spending during the Cold War? With all the expensive nonsense programs in the government, is it serious to cut the one Department that makes all the others possible?

Apr. 12 2011 09:06 AM
concerningspending from Sterling Heights, MI

An alarming percentage of our spending may be corrupt or careless unneeded splurging. An acquaintance works for General Dynamics building tanks in Sterling Heights. Their spending:
She and others were given unexpected unscheduled salary increase immediately adjacent to Obama's election. They were told it was to bring their pay in line with a higher position they may or may not get in the future, their responsibilities weren't changed and they weren't being promoted.
Dozens of prizes worth hundreds and some thousands, vacations, electronics, large gift certificates are given in drawings at their holiday party.
Engineers are booked in boutique hotels while traveling in DC, and may even have rooms paid for if they stay over the weekend for an add-on vacation.
Pensions are generous and based on the salary during the last couple years of employment, people try to get higher paid promotions to increase their future pension and then linger in senior positions while reportedly contributing minimally.
She described projects are budgeted in a peculiar way and project costs increase easily for odd reasons.

Apr. 12 2011 08:44 AM

(BTW, my daughter is 17.)M

Apr. 12 2011 07:59 AM
Pat from Maplewood, NJ

When I told my daughter that the US spends more on defense than all of the rest of the countries in the world combined, she was stunned.

When she recovered, she commented, dryly, "Haven't we learned anything from the fall of the Soviet Union?"

Apr. 12 2011 07:34 AM

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