OUR AMERICAN MONSTER: How the Pentagon Devours the Budget  & Pentagon Budget as Corporate Welfare for Weapons Makers

Tomgram: William Hartung, The Pentagon Budget as Corporate Welfare for Weapons Makers

What company gets the most money from the U.S. government?  The answer: the weapons maker Lockheed Martin.  As the Washington Post recently reported, of its $51 billion in sales in 2017, Lockheed took in $35.2 billion from the government, or close to what the Trump administration is proposing for the 2019 State Department budget.  And which company is in second place when it comes to raking in the taxpayer dollars?  The answer: Boeing with a mere $26.5 billion. And mind you, that’s before the good times even truly begin to roll, as TomDispatch regular and weapons industry expert William Hartung makes clear today in a deep dive into the (ir)realities of the Pentagon budget.  When it comes to the Department of Defense, though, perhaps we should retire the term “budget” altogether, given its connotation of restraint. Can’t we find another word entirely? Like the Pentagon cornucopia?

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that perfectly sober reportage about Pentagon funding issues isn’t satire in the style of the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz.  Take, for instance, a recent report in the Washington Examiner that Army Secretary Mark Esper and other Pentagon officials are now urging Congress to release them from a September 30th deadline for fully dispersing their operation and maintenance funds (about 40% of the department’s budget).  In translation, they’re telling Congress that they have more money than even they can spend in the time allotted.

It’s hard to be forced to spend vast sums in a rush when, for instance, you’re launching a nuclear arms “race” of one by “modernizing” what’s already the most advanced arsenal on the planet over the next 30 years for a mere trillion-plus dollars (a sum that, given the history of Pentagon budgeting, is sure to rise precipitously). In that context, let Hartung usher you into the wondrous world of what, in the age of The Donald, might be thought of (with alliteration in mind) as the Plutocratic Pentagon. Tom

How the Pentagon Devours the Budget
Normalizing Budgetary Bloat
By William D. Hartung

Imagine for a moment a scheme in which American taxpayers were taken to the cleaners to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars and there was barely a hint of criticism or outrage.  Imagine as well that the White House and a majority of the politicians in Washington, no matter the party, acquiesced in the arrangement.  In fact, the annual quest to boost Pentagon spending into the stratosphere regularly follows that very scenario, assisted by predictions of imminent doom from industry-funded hawks with a vested interest in increased military outlays.

Most Americans are probably aware that the Pentagon spends a lot of money, but it’s unlikely they grasp just how huge those sums really are.  All too often, astonishingly lavish military budgets are treated as if they were part of the natural order, like death or taxes.

The figures contained in the recent budget deal that kept Congress open, as well as in President Trump’s budget proposal for 2019, are a case in point: $700 billion for the Pentagon and related programs in 2018 and $716 billion the following year.  Remarkably, such numbers far exceeded even the Pentagon’s own expansive expectations.  According to Donald Trump, admittedly not the most reliable source in all cases, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis reportedly said, “Wow, I can’t believe we got everything we wanted” — a rare admission from the head of an organization whose only response to virtually any budget proposal is to ask for more.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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1 Response to OUR AMERICAN MONSTER: How the Pentagon Devours the Budget  & Pentagon Budget as Corporate Welfare for Weapons Makers

  1. eslkevin says:

    We need to stop feeding our monsters.

    My Dear Red Letter Family…

    It takes time for water to boil. It doesn’t happen all at once. It starts with a little steam, and a few tiny bubbles. And water doesn’t boil from the top down… but from the bottom up. It begins small, builds momentum… and before long you have a full on rolling boil.

    It sort of feels like that is happening in our country.

    It is time to get in formation.

    The Spirit is moving. Students are rising up. Women are marching and running for office in record numbers. The margins of our society have become the center of attention… which sounds like the Gospel.

    One of our elders from the Civil Rights movement told me, “If you wonder what you would have done if you were alive in the 60s… just watch what you are doing now. That’s what you would have been doing then.” It was a reminder that even as people were marching, preaching and singing, and going to jail… other folks were watching it all on television or sleeping through the revolution.

    We are not going to sleep through the revolution that is bubbling up in America. Red Letter Christians was born for “such a time as this”. We believe that alongside the inevitable changes that will be made in policies like immigration, mass incarceration, the death penalty, and gun violence… there is also a spiritual awakening happening in our country. It’s time for a revival.

    We are done with the American nationalism that masquerades as Christianity but looks nothing like Jesus. If there ever was a time for REVIVAL the time is now!

    Help us make these revivals a reality – sign up as a sustainer today!

    Thank you for not sleeping through this revolution. Thank you for waking up for the revival that is bubbling up in this country. We are thrilled to be alive with you, awake with you, at this important moment in history. On behalf of all of us here at Red Letter Christians….See you in Lynchburg.

    —Shane Claiborne

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