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We Really Do Spend More Than $1 Trillion on War

The Pentagon’s budget is only about half of what the U.S. spends on war and defense. If you add costs like nuclear weapons and the medical care of wounded soldiers, the figure tops $1 trillion. Robert Higgs has the math to prove it.

To keep things in perspective, the National Endowment for the Arts requested $161.3 million in funding for 2010.

Robert Higgs / Independent Institute via FDL:

For now, however, the conclusion seems inescapable: the government is currently spending at a rate well in excess of $1 trillion per year for all defense-related purposes. Owing to the financial debacle and the ongoing recession, millions are out of work, millions are losing their homes, and private earnings remain well below their previous peak, but in the military-industrial complex, the gravy train speeds along the track faster and faster.

National Security Outlays in Fiscal Year 2009

(billions of dollars)

Department of Defense 636.5
Department of Energy (nuclear weapons & environ. cleanup) 16.7
Department of State (plus intern. assistance) 36.3
Department of Veterans Affairs 95.5
Department of Homeland Security 51.7
Department of the Treasury (for Military Retirement Fund) 54.9
National Aeronautics & Space Administration (1/2 of total) 9.6
Net interest attributable to past debt-financed defense outlays 126.3
Total 1,027.5
Source: Author’s classifications and calculations; basic data from U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2011 and U.S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970.

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