‘Madness’: Biden Requests Record $886 Billion for DoD

March 11th, 2023 - by Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

Continuing to Throw Money at Weapons,
War, and Defense Contractor Profits,
Is Unacceptable

Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

(March 9, 2023) — President Joe Biden unveiled a budget blueprint Thursday that requests $886.4 billion in military spending for fiscal year 2024, pushing for a nearly $30 billion increase over current outlays as progressives demand cuts to the bloated and notoriously fraud-ridden Pentagon.

The president’s budget proposes $842 billion for the Pentagon alone, including nearly $38 billion for widely criticized efforts to “modernize” the United States’ massive nuclear arsenal.

Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen and a vocal critic of excessive military spending, said Thursday that Biden’s request for an $886 billion budget is “madness.”

“That’s a jump of $28 billion from the current year,” Weissman noted. “The increase of $28 billion is more than twice the entire EPA budget.”

Weissman argued that funneling more money into the Pentagon’s coffers “makes the US weaker, not stronger.”

“It means we are weaker on healthcare, weaker on poverty, weaker on fairness and equity, weaker on climate, weaker on pandemics, weaker on diplomacy,” he added.

The president’s military budget request is part of a sprawling $6.8 trillion framework that was largely praised by progressives for its proposed tax hikes on the rich and large corporations—revenue from which would be used to fund Biden’s plan to bolster Medicareand increase spending on Medicaid, public housing, and childcare.

But with austerity-obsessed Republicans in control of the House, much of the president’s budget is dead on arrival.

However, recent history shows Congress is almost certain to build on Biden’s military spending request.

Last year, lawmakers agreed on a bipartisan basis to add $45 billion to the president’s topline proposal, bringing total military spending to $858 billion for fiscal year 2023.

“The proposed Pentagon topline level makes no sense,” Lisa Gilbert, Public Citizen’s executive vice president, said of Biden’s new budget request. “There is no excuse for our country’s reckless overspending on the Pentagon, and the FY24 proposal continues this dangerous trajectory.”

“The Defense Department has never once passed an audit and is infamous for wasting funds with impunity,” Gilbert continued. “The president’s proposal would bring US military spending to its highest level in history at an astronomical $886 billion. Continuing to throw this much money at weapons, war, and defense contractor profits is unacceptable.”

“It’s telling that as families struggle and see support they had during the pandemic evaporate, the Pentagon, which has never passed an audit, continues to get a budget windfall.”

fact sheet put out by the White House on Thursday states that the president’s budget “prioritizes China as America’s pacing challenge” and “supports investments to accelerate critical weapons and munitions production lines; develop capabilities like long-range strike, undersea, hypersonic, and autonomous systems; and increase resiliency of our space architectures.”

While the White House claimed Biden’s military budget would help the world confront “pressing global challenges,” Sara Haghdoosti of Win Without War countered that “more F-35s aren’t going to solve climate change or make sure families can afford basic supplies like eggs.”

“It’s telling that as families struggle and see support they had during the pandemic evaporate, the Pentagon, which has never passed an audit, continues to get a budget windfall,” said Haghdoosti.

In an analysis of the president’s request, William Hartung of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft noted that when accounting for “likely emergency military aid packages for Ukraine later this year plus the potential tens of billions of dollars in congressional add-ons,” total US military spending could balloon to around $950 billion for the fiscal year that begins on October 1.

“The Pentagon doesn’t need more spending. It needs more spending discipline, tied to a realistic strategy that sets clear priorities and acknowledges that some of the greatest risks we face are not military in nature,” Hartung wrote. “Today’s announcement is just the opening gambit in this year’s debate over the Pentagon budget. Hopefully critics of runaway spending will have more traction this year than has been the case for the past several years.”

“If not,” he added, “$1 trillion in annual military spending may be just around the corner, at great cost to taxpayers and to the safety and security of the country as a whole.”

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