The federal budget actually comes in two parts; “mandatory spending” on things such as Social Security and Medicare and “discretionary spending” on virtually everything else, which includes the Defense Department. The divide between mandatory and discretionary spending breaks down roughly to 2/3 mandatory and 1/3 discretionary. Therefore the DoD budget of $708 Billion actually represents approximately 54% of the discretionary spending of the federal government in 2011. Oh, and did I mention that this figure does not include the 2010 (off-budget) “emergency supplemental” for Iraq and Afghanistan of another $33 Billion which, when added to the $708 Billion budget request, will put military spending at almost ¾ trillion dollars for FY 2011?
So how do the other needs of the American people stack up to the defense budget?
Coming in second place to bullets and bombs is the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at $81.3 Billion. The Department of Transportation (DoT) follows at $77 Billion. Lagging behind HHS and DoT comes the $57 Billion for the Department of State (this might come as a surprise for all those folks who are touting Obama’s new emphasis on diplomacy over military action) and $57 Billion for the VA. Then come the departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at $49.7 Billion and $48.5 Billion respectively. The Department of Homeland Security (not sure why this isn’t part of the DoD budget) has been allotted $44 Billion in this budget request. Pretty much sweeping up the crumbs are the departments of Justice ($29 Billion), Energy ($28 Billion), Agriculture ($26 Billion), NASA ($19 Billion), Labor ($14 Billion), Treasury ($14. Billion), Interior ($12 Billion), EPA ($10 Billion), and Commerce ($8 Billion).
Setting aside the fact that I argue State, HLS, and couple others should really be classified as more related to DoD than to the basic day to day needs of the American people (certainly not in the same category as Education and HHS), the disparity between the DoD and everything else is almost $200 Billion. Back to John Boehner. If $848 Billion over 10 years will bankrupt us, just where does $708Billion in one year put us as a country? To help answer this question, I have asked the four announced candidates for the US House from Washington’s 2nd CD (Democrats Rick Larsen, Diana McGinness, and Larry Kalb and Republican John Koster) to respond to the same query:
On February 1st President Obama submitted a Defense Department budget request
for FY2011 for over $708 Billion. For the first time since the invasion of
Afghanistan in 2001, the DoD budget request includes direct funding for the
continuing military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq (over $150 Billion). In real
dollars, this request represents the largest DoD budget request in the history
of the country.
1) Do you believe this request is proportional
to the threat to our security and, if not, is it too high or too low? Please
describe what you believe to be the real military/security threat to our country
to clarify your response.
2) Keeping in mind the current debate
taking place over healthcare insurance reform and the cost associated with that
issue and the fact the FY2011 leaves us with a $1.3 Trillion deficit; do you
believe that the proposed DoD budget request is in balance with the social and
infrastructure needs of the country?
I have been told to expect responses from the three Democrats and am hopeful that Mr. Koster will also respond. It is my intention to post each of their answers in its entirety without editorial comment as separate posts as they come in. I believe it should be obvious to most who read here where I stand on this issue so I will end with a recent comment from House Financial Services Committee Chair, Barney Frank discussing potential defense cuts to help provide a better balance to our over-all budget:
“You know, as I‘ve noted the other day, we still have three ways to drop thermal
nuclear weapons on the Soviet Union… Given the fact that there is no more Soviet
Union, I‘m going to be radical and say to the Pentagon, why don‘t you pick two
of the three and save us billions of dollars?”
Chad (The Left) Shue