We’re all tense. Hearing about our fellow citizens in Hawaii scrambling around, looking for a place to hide from a nuclear bomb, will do that to you. So will contests between two unstable world leaders over the size of their nuclear buttons.
Now, some politicians say they’ll protect us by adding massive amounts to the Pentagon budget. This seems like a no-brainer: feel threatened, give more money to the military. But it isn’t.
Practically everyone from the president on down, though, seems to take it as a given. “In confronting these horrible dangers,” Donald Trump said during his State of the Union, “I’m calling on Congress” to “fully fund our great military.”
The president and his party are now looking to add somewhere between $30 and $70 billion more in military spending to their budget for next year — on top of the increases for this year. Democrats seem willing to go along, with a few caveats.
Nobody seems worried anymore about adding to the financial hole we just dug for ourselves and our children with $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the rich.
It’s true that the military needs predictability, which has been hobbled by politicians who can’t get it together to pass a real budget. Every enterprise, except maybe improv comedy, does. But it’s not true that the military needs more money.
The portrait of a “starved” military, which Trump and his secretary of defense like to complain about, airbrushes out a few facts.
We’re now spending more on the military, adjusted for inflation, than at any time since World War II — including during the Reagan and George W. Bush buildups. We spend more than the next eight countries put together.
Worse still, the military can’t even say what it’s actually spending — it’s still the only federal agency that can’t pass an audit. The brass says they’ll really try this year, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Trusting the Pentagon to rein in its own waste hasn’t worked. Back in 2015, the Pentagon’s own commissioned report found $125 billion in…