Friday, January 11, 2013

Defense spending

Brad Plumer @ Wonkblog:

1) The United States spent 20 percent of the federal budget on defense in 2011. 

budget defense

All told, the U.S. government spent about $718 billion on defense and international security assistance in 2011 — more than it spent on Medicare. That includes all of the Pentagon’s underlying costs as well as the price tag for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which came to $159 billion in 2011. It also includes arms transfers to foreign governments.

(Note that this figure does not, however, include benefits for veterans, which came to $127 billion in 2011, or about 3.5 percent of the federal budget. If you count those benefits as “defense spending,” then the number goes up significantly.)

U.S. defense spending is expected to have risen in 2012, to about $729 billion, and then is set to fall in 2013 to $716 billion, as spending caps start kicking in.

2) Defense spending has risen dramatically since 9/11.

Here’s a historical chart of U.S. defense spending since World War II in inflation-adjusted dollars. There’s a big spike for the Korean and Vietnam wars. There’s another big ramp-up during the 1980s under President Reagan. Then defense spending got cut significantly during the Clinton years until soaring to historically unprecedented levels after 9/11.
U.S. defense spending is set to fall again in 2013, though it will still be as high in real terms as it was at the height of the Reagan build-up for the foreseeable future.

3) The Pentagon’s budget mostly consists of personnel pay, weapons procurement, and operations.

Source: Office of Management and Budget, Graph: Dylan Matthews

In 2011, the Pentagon spent about $161 billion on personnel pay and housing, $128 billion on weapons procurement, and $291 billion on operations and maintenance— the last largely in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those three items made up the bulk of the budget.

Smaller amounts also were spent on R&D (about $74 billion) and nuclear programs ($20 billion), as well as construction, family housing and other programs ($22 billion).

My colleague Dylan Matthews created the graph above to show how these portions have changed over time. Personnel spending has stayed constant over the years, even as the number of soldiers in the U.S. military has shrunk (pay and benefits have increased). Weapons procurement can vary wildly. And operations spending has soared during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

4) The United States spent more on its military than the next 13 nations combined in 2011.


Needless to say, the United States remains the world’s dominant military power. The graph above comes from the Pete G. Peterson Foundation, which compiled data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

5) The U.S. defense budget is poised to shrink in 2013 and beyond, although this won’t be the biggest downsizing it has ever faced.

Two big things are about to happen to military spending. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down. And, thanks to the 2011 Budget Control Act, the Pentagon is facing both hard budget caps and a looming sequester that would cut defense spending by about $1 trillion over the next decade (compared to what was expected).

That’s a serious cut. Although, as the graph above from the Center for Strategic and International Studies shows, even if the sequester is fully implemented, which no one expects, the drawdowns after Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War were far more drastic in inflation-adjusted dollars...

No comments:

Post a Comment