By Savannah Wooten, published on InkstickMedia.com
[In January 2023], in his protracted bid to become the speaker of the House for the 118th Congress, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) reportedly struck a deal with holdouts that would seek to roll back all federal spending to fiscal year 2022 levels. Following this promise would entail cutting military spending by $75 billion — the mere prospect of which has sparked heated debate within an already fractured GOP.
There is much to critique about a secret deal that risks a government shutdown and devastating cuts to important investments in climate mitigation, education, and public health. But as politicians, pundits, and the public react to the news of this deal, it is crucial to resist defending the sky-high Pentagon budget and its current excesses. Here’s why.
ALWAYS LOOKING THE OTHER WAY
Even at fiscal year 2022 levels, the Pentagon already spends well over three-quarters of a trillion dollars — roughly half of the nation’s annual discretionary spending. This funding continues to flow despite the agency failing its fifth consecutive audit in November 2022. The Department of Defense requests and receives increases each year. For example, just last year, President Joe Biden requested a whopping $813 billion for the Pentagon, more than $30 billion over the previous year’s budget. Congress not only readily acquiesced to this request but also added $45 billion more in pet projects and extraneous spending that neither the president nor the Pentagon even asked for, paving the way for a final appropriations deal that landed at $858 billion for the Pentagon. These never-ending top-ups are made possible by members of Congress and their military-industrial allies who constantly jockey to add billions on top of the already bloated budget. …