Current Military Spending $700 Billion
An inordinately large section of Bush's military budget will end up
in the coffers of the "Big Five" - Lockheed Martin, Northrop
Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon, and General Dynamics. But unraveling that
budget is no easy task.
The budget request for fiscal 2005 is $401.7 billion, a 9.7% jump,
but there are a host of programs hidden in other budgets.
For instance, the $401.7 figure doesn't include $18.5 billion for
nuclear weapons, because that expense is tucked away in the Department
of Energy budget.
Homeland Security, and related programs in Transportation, Justice,
State, and the Treasury, add another $42.5 billion.
What should also be included are the Department of Veterans Affairs
The Interest on defense-related debt ($138.7 billion).
The administration has already informed Congress that it intends to
ask for a $50 billion supplement for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
(it got $62.6 billion last spring and $87 billion in November).
Hit the add button, and the military budget looks more like $702.3
billion. That's real money.
Troops Left Out
But not for the troops. The average front-line trooper makes $16,000,
the same as a Wal-Mart clerk, and according to a study by Nickel and
Dimed author Barbara Ehrenreich, more than 25,000 military families
are eligible for Food Stamps. The new budget will raise wages 3.5%,
but most of that hike will go to the high-tech Air Force (9.6%), not
the larger Army (1.8%).
The arms corporations are another matter. Lockheed Martin, Boeing,
and Northrop Grumman will corner one out of every four of those dollars.
There are other spigots besides the military budget that pour money
into the coffers of the Big Five. The big winners in NASA's budget
boost will be Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and TRW -
all major space contractors.
This generosity is repaid come Election Day. In the 2002 election
cycle, defense firms, led by Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman,
poured over $16 million into Political Action Committees (PAC) at a
ratio of 65% for Republicans and 35% for Democrats. According to the
Center for Responsive Politics, those figures appear to be holding
in the run up to the 2004 elections as well.
The collusion between politicians, the military, and the defense firms
is particularly egregious in the administration's race to deploy an
antiballistic missile (ABM) system. The ABM soaked up 15% of the $43.1
billion slated for weapons development in 2003 - 60% of which went
to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon - and it is getting a major
boost in the new budget.
The hemorrhaging of money by the ABM has churned up opposition from
current and former military leaders. Led by retired Admiral William
Crowe, former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 48 admirals and generals
recently urged that the administration halt deploying the ABM and instead
divert the $53 billion slated to be spent on the system over the next
five years to protecting the nation's ports from terrorism.
While the military budget and ancillary programs continue to balloon,
domestic spending will rise a tepid 0.5%; the White House is highlighting
its plan to raise education spending by 3%, but that will only mean
a jump of $1.6 billion, less than the cost of a single Northrop Grumman
Conn Hallinan is an analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus and a provost
at UC Santa Cruz. Posted with permission from Foreign Policy in Focus.
April 17, 2004