Pentagon Spending


The Trump administration is asking taxpayers to spend $750 billion on wars and the military fiscal year 2020. That adds up to more than $2 billion every day, and more than $1 million every minute.

Cockpit of an f-15

Matthew Bruch / U.S. Department of Defense

This money fuels America’s endless wars. Untold billions wasted on weapons and waging war has not eradicated violent extremism. When our country spends countless dollars on war without sparing even a relative dime for peace, it has lost its way.

Where We Are

In inflation-adjusted terms, Congress is handing more taxpayer money to the Pentagon today than at the height of Vietnam War—and almost as much as the worst days of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Over the past two years the Trump Administration and Congress together have hiked spending on the Pentagon to $716 billion. With Congress needing to reach a new budget agreement for fiscal year 2020, the White House and Pentagon are now daring to ask for tens of billions more—even after the Pentagon spectacularly failed its first ever agency-wide financial audit.

As a key part of this obscene budgetary largesse, the Trump Administration wants taxpayers to start making down payments on a $1.2 trillion, 30-year bill for to expand, extend, and improve America’s bloated Cold War nuclear weapons arsenal. Leading this dangerous, misguided project are current plans to unnecessarily replace and indefinitely prolong America’s risky silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), as well as build whole new varieties of “low yield” warheads designed to make using a nuclear weapon easier.

What Can We Do?

The best way to cut Pentagon spending is to just cut the overall budget topline. Cutting the overall Pentagon budget would force military leaders to start making hard choices about which programs and capabilities really matters.

As a start, there are some straightforward steps Congress can take to start reining in the military-industrial machine:

  • Bar any military spending increases until the Pentagon successfully passes its full financial audit—if it can’t keep track of what it has, why should it get more?
  • Ensure that, at a minimum, no more than a dollar gets spent on fighting war for every dime that is budgeted for building peace. This would represent a vast improvement compared to current spending.
  • Stop funding for the war in Afghanistan, saving $45-50 billion; cancel development and production of a new ICBM, saving $400 million in 2020; and reject the creation of a Space Force, saving $300-550 million.

Endless money fuels endless war, at the expense of things like environmental protection, food safety inspections, reentry services, housing assistance, health care, diplomacy and conflict prevention. It’s time for Congress to put the United States on a different path.