While Rome burned, President Obama and the Republican-controlled US Congress traded childish taunts and hot air. Both parties refused to tell Americans the painful truth: government’s yawning $1.4 trillion US budget deficit had to be slashed to prevent a financial meltdown. That would mean pain for everyone. But the two political parties are deadlocked: Obama’s Democrats want to raise taxes. Republicans demand tax cuts. They want to cut health, education and welfare, all three sacred cows to the Democrats, while increasing military spending when 40 million Americans draw government food aid.
This dishonest debate mostly ignores the 800-lb gorilla in the room: America’s bloated $750-900 billion annual military spending. Some experts put total annual US military and intelligence spending at $1.2 trillion.
Few American politicians dare suggest seriously trimming the Pentagon’s runaway spending.
The US National Priorities Project estimates that in 2011, out of one dollar of US federal spending, 27.4 per cent is military; 21.5 per cent health; 13.8 per cent interest on the debt; 10.9 per cent social security benefits; 3.5 per cent on education; and 23 per cent on everything else.
In 2010, US military spending exceeded by 50 per cent the average spent in the Cold War years when America had a serious rival in the Soviet Union. Since 2000, US military spending has grown by 67 per cent (all figures adjusted for inflation). Yet today America has no real military rival.