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February 5, 2008 12:12 PM   Subscribe

Bush requests $515.4 billion in funds for the defense budget from congress. So what do those numbers mean? The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments states the DoD’s base budget will grow to record (or near-record) levels and will require even greater increases in the coming years. The troops wouldn’t mind the planned pay raises commensurate with the private sector, housing that doesn’t smell like bug powder and mold, and chow that doesn’t turn your stomach. But according to the CSBA’s analysis ( here * caution PDF) , it’s doubtful that even an ideological Bush clone would be able to implement those increases given the economic realities. Some vets blame the silence of the generals. Should everything have changed post 9/11?(*PDF)
posted by Smedleyman (74 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
With the defense budget request coming up, tbalbach’s post on Vonnegut got me to thinking.
And Wheeler was just was on NPR , Obviously the NYT wasn’t happy with it either, and with the election stuff going on seems like a news story that got smothered. It’s your money after all.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:17 PM on February 5, 2008


The pentagon got an ‘F’ in everything but advertising last year from the CDI as well.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:19 PM on February 5, 2008


The troops wouldn’t mind the planned pay raises commensurate with the private sector, housing that doesn’t smell like bug powder and mold, and chow that doesn’t turn your stomach.

It is doubtful that any of the $500+ billion will go anywhere but to private military contractors and related service industries.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:22 PM on February 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Wow. Half a trillion dollars a year for us to maintain our hegemony.

"But the Iraqis have oil! The war will pay for itself!"
posted by Avenger at 12:25 PM on February 5, 2008


Why not cut the president's retirement package?
posted by Postroad at 12:26 PM on February 5, 2008


Blazecock Pileon - yeah. ‘zactly.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:27 PM on February 5, 2008


"Bush's $3.1 trillion spending plan proposes a 7 percent cut in funds for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as less money for Medicare and Medicaid -- the joint federal-state health insurance programs for the poor and elderly.

The budget for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2009 would reduce spending on Medicare by $12.8 billion and lower federal funds for Medicaid by $18.2 billion over five years."

posted by The Straightener at 12:27 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I fully support the Pentagon having a $500 billion budget.....in 2050.
posted by DU at 12:27 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


My daughter is three. I asked her if she minded paying for all this stuff, and also lending the government money to send Daddy a check in a few months. She said it was ok. So, I guess this must be ok.

I mean, she's not too much smarter than the President.
posted by JWright at 12:34 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


(is she?)
posted by JWright at 12:34 PM on February 5, 2008


Haha, he wants how much?
posted by idiotfactory at 12:34 PM on February 5, 2008


Fred Kaplan: What's Really in the U.S. Military Budget? Much more than the oft-cited $515.4 billion.
It's time for our annual game: How much is really in the U.S. military budget?

As usual, it's about $200 billion more than most news stories are reporting. For the proposed fiscal year 2009 budget, which President Bush released today, the real size is not, as many news stories have reported, $515.4 billion—itself a staggering sum—but, rather, $713.1 billion.
posted by homunculus at 12:35 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


The opportunity costs of the Pentagon's budget are simply staggering. Just imagine what that money could be spend on if it wasn't all dedicated to building and maintaining the world's biggest engine of death. I feel fucking ill.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:36 PM on February 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Didn't the Soviet Union destroy itself through military spending it couldn't afford?

Just sayin'
posted by unSane at 12:37 PM on February 5, 2008 [9 favorites]


Didn't the Soviet Union destroy itself through military spending it couldn't afford?

They were racing to keep up with the US. God knows who the US is racing to keep up with. I think the flyball governor might be jammed.
posted by Leon at 12:46 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Leon: They were also dumping tons of money into fighting a Islamist native insurgency in Afghanistan.
posted by absalom at 12:49 PM on February 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


First one to a trillion wins!

And by "wins", I mean "loses", and by "loses", I mean "ushers in a new dark age, and the general downfall of civilization".
posted by blue_beetle at 12:49 PM on February 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


This demonstrates that no one in the White House understands how large of a number a trillion is. In reality, most people don't grasp the enormity of such a number, but if you are in a position of authority to use one trillion of something, you'd damn sure better understand it.

Swap "trillion" for "billion" if you like, the matter is all the same.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:51 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Half a trillion here, half a trillion there... pretty soon you're talking real money.
posted by Dirjy at 12:52 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


They were also dumping tons of money into fighting a Islamist native insurgency in Afghanistan.

Thank Xenu we're not doing anything that stupid.
posted by Mister_A at 12:57 PM on February 5, 2008


The defense contractors need the money - election year is their bribing season.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:02 PM on February 5, 2008


I can't wait to fuck that president.
posted by Balisong at 1:04 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd rather have health care.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:06 PM on February 5, 2008


Kaplan's best point in Slate is that, just as in every year since the '60s, each of the services, Army, Navy, and Air Force, is getting exactly 1/3 of the '09 budget. Gosh, what a coincidence.
posted by nicwolff at 1:07 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Imagine taking just one year of that money and dumping it into alternative energy. Or endowing a national health care fund. Or education. You know, the things that actually create civilized society.
posted by maxwelton at 1:10 PM on February 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


unSane writes: Didn't the Soviet Union destroy itself through military spending it couldn't afford?

If I might channel The Card Cheat here for a moment:

According to conservative lore, the Russians lost the cold war because they ramped up defense spending to an unsustainable level (goaded on by Reagan, that wily fox!) and bankrupted themselves by fighting an expensive, unwinnable war in Afganistan. But now that Bush is doing the same thing to his own country, he's a hero.

Keep on living that fiscally conservative dream, neocons. I'm already looking forward to Iran Tour '08.
posted by Mayor West at 1:16 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


So basically Bush took a shit on the floor before moving out?

That fuck ain't getting his security deposit back, tell ya what.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:17 PM on February 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


"each of the services, Army, Navy, and Air Force, is getting exactly 1/3 of the '09 budget."

Well, 'defense' is getting about a third.
From the ‘numbers’ link: “The $518.3 billion is incomplete; it does not include $70 billion requested to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But that number too is inaccurate... the amount requested in the budget for the wars is off by $70 billion to $140 billion.”
Plus the DOE’s $17.1 billion for nuclear weapons research, storage, and related activities. 
Plus the President’s request for an additional $3.2 billion for miscellaneous defense costs in other agencies (the General Services Administration’s National Defense Stockpile, the Selective Service, and the FBI’s international activities)
Plus DHS spending - add $40.1 billion
Plus State Department spending - add $38.4 billion (for diplomacy, arms aid to allies, UN peacekeeping, reconstruction aid for Iraq and Afghanistan and foreign aid for other countries - in some cases money well spent, others not so much) 
Plus Department of Veterans Affairs - $91.3 billion (way, way underpredicted)
Plus military retirement - $12.1 billion
(etc. etc.)
Very close to $1 trillion.
Not to mention the interest on the national debt.
Meanwhile - most of the actual military isn't that well off. Aging equipment, less training time, poor housing, pay, etc. etc.
So...where's 1/3 of the budget actually going?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:22 PM on February 5, 2008


WHY is the fucking Airfarce getting a god damned dime?

Oh. That's right I forgot about the vital threat we have been facing from the squadrons of elite Al Quaeda advanced fighter jets pilots!
posted by tkchrist at 1:26 PM on February 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, at an NSF budget briefing: "We are reaching the limits of our ability to do more with less."
posted by Tehanu at 1:33 PM on February 5, 2008


You don't go to war with the defense budget, personnel, equipment or management you want, you go to war with the defense budget, personnel, equipment or management you have.
posted by Balisong at 1:38 PM on February 5, 2008


WHY is the fucking Airfarce getting a god damned dime?

Even if you think ground troops are the only way to go, they run the predator drones, which back up ground assaults. And they run the AWACS system that guides helicopters to and from combat.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 1:39 PM on February 5, 2008


WHY is the fucking Airfarce getting a god damned dime?

Oh. That's right I forgot about the vital threat we have been facing from the squadrons of elite Al Quaeda advanced fighter jets pilots!


You have no idea what the Air Force actually does, do you?
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:01 PM on February 5, 2008


most people don't grasp the enormity of such a number,

I've tried to get my head around the concept of a billion by imagining what I would do: It usually involves saving $3 million to live off of for the rest of my life, and taking the remaining $997 million and doing something stupidly extravagant like buying some derelict ships and playing Battleship for real, or building a town specifically for the purposes of reenacting my favorite car chase scenes.

I really can't get my head around the idea of a trillion. It's just too much.
posted by quin at 2:23 PM on February 5, 2008


Having to spend this much money on defense should give everyone an idea of exactly how much the US is hated by the rest of the world.
posted by mullingitover at 2:37 PM on February 5, 2008


tkfarce: To fund the Stargate program. Duh.
posted by Laen at 2:40 PM on February 5, 2008


does part of this defense budget go to propping up tomorrow's boogey men our favorite dictators our noble allies in the global war on terror? or is that drawn from another budget that's so top secret it's not even marked as top secret?

Having to spend this much money on defense should give everyone an idea of exactly how much the US is hated by the rest of the world.

it's not so much that we're hated by the rest of the world as it is that we hate and fear much of the rest of the world.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:43 PM on February 5, 2008


Take every US citizen that is on this thread right now...

Assuming you're not worth more than $100 million...

EVERY tax dollar you will EVER pay in your life, all of us, put it in a pile, and burn it, 'cause that's what just happened to it in the last 10 minutes in the "Iraq War".

If this isn't enough for us to take up arms and take our country back, we're absolutely fucked.

Your children, if you have any, are totally fucked. They will end up in the streets, begging for a scrap of bread.

This is not snark, kids, it's our reality.

And it makes me angry. Absolutely fucking furious. And it should make you every bit as angry.

Because if it doesn't, then seriously, there's something wrong with you.
posted by dbiedny at 2:54 PM on February 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


They were also dumping tons of money into fighting a Islamist native insurgency in Afghanistan.

Speaking of which: Insurgencies spread in Afghanistan and Pakistan
posted by homunculus at 2:55 PM on February 5, 2008


does part of this defense budget go to propping up tomorrow's boogey men our favorite dictators our noble allies in the global war on terror? or is that drawn from another budget that's so top secret it's not even marked as top secret?

A reputable German newspaper suggests the CIA prints its own greenbacks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:56 PM on February 5, 2008


What's the point exactly? Functionally, the defense budget is unlimited. Do people really have projects that don't get funding? Hell, look at that fucking Osprey crap - that should have died a thousand times over, but nooo...

So, where is the functional limit? Is there one?
posted by odinsdream at 3:00 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


You have no idea what the Air Force actually does, do you?

They blow people up. And whoever they blow up, is a terrorist.
posted by Flashman at 3:07 PM on February 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


I can only imagine there's a defense budget calculator like this one except the Bush Administration's version only has 1 slider with no labels and Bush drags it back and forth until there's a graph that looks pretty enough for him.
posted by junesix at 3:19 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've tried to get my head around the concept of a billion by imagining what I would do: It usually involves saving $3 million to live off of for the rest of my life, and taking the remaining $997 million and doing something stupidly extravagant like buying some derelict ships and playing Battleship for real, or building a town specifically for the purposes of reenacting my favorite car chase scenes.

I've thought about the same thing, and it always leads me to the same question: Would my standing offer of $100 million dollars cash to the first person to show up at my doorstep with a working lightsaber be a good thing for society as a whole? Either way I'd still have enough left over for my Trading Places era Eddie Murphy robot sidekick. The rest goes to charity.
posted by billyfleetwood at 3:55 PM on February 5, 2008


$500,000,000,000 budget

$100,000 salary

5,000,000 jobs.
posted by panamax at 4:00 PM on February 5, 2008


where is the functional limit?

Watch the Treasury issues. The higher the interest we're paying, the closer to the limit we approach.
posted by panamax at 4:02 PM on February 5, 2008


There appears to be an inordinate number of favorited comments in this thread, or maybe it's just that there were seven favorited comments in a row.

I don't have anything to add, though.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:35 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's my latest conspiracy theory: the Bush administration has used the private contractor situation in Iraq and elsewhere to bulk up private firms who also happen to be headed by apocalyptic-minded Christian fundamentalists (see: Eric Prince of Blackwater). Enter 9/11 part II, this year. Another terrorist attack in the U.S., Bush claims emergency privelige to remain president for another four years (it could happen, look it up), and the Blackwaters of this country turn America into a police state, or a close facsimile thereof.

\I never wrote this.
\\You never read it.
posted by zardoz at 5:07 PM on February 5, 2008


I see no reason to blame the officers in the militay for not "revolting." After all,they have been taught and trained to take orders. but when some years ago the Pentagon said it didn't need the new money being allotted, it was told it had to take it! Why blame officers when thecowards in Congress go along with the budget nonsense? After all, they serve the public. If they lose their jobs, there is always lobby jobs for them.
posted by Postroad at 5:38 PM on February 5, 2008


You have no idea what the Air Force actually does, do you?

OMFG good one!!! Nailed me! ZING! HURF DURF! Ahhhh-OOOO-GAH!

Let's see... My Brother-In-Law graduated top of his class at the Air Force Academy and combat fighter pilot ,my Father-in-law being an Air Force pilot, and my entire family being either being Army or Air Force, and me growing up on either Army, Air Force or RAF bases? Does any of that count, Ace? No? Well. I I guess I don't know.

But my strained but educated guess is the Air Force has something to do with... flying shit around, fighting air to air, and dropping bombs and launching missiles, right?

And so far 80% of that shit has meant exactly ZERO in the asymmetrical warfare we are currently mired in in Iraq (and the 20% that has mattered were close ground support programs the Airfarce wanted to canceled - like the Warthog) .

The only thing we need LESS than goddamned Stealth aircraft, "tactical" fighter jets, or strategic bombers, (procurement and maintenance of which constitute a huge portion of the Airfarce budget) are frigg'n submarines. Oh. And they are those things that go under water. I know that much.

You have no idea what an Albatross is, right?
posted by tkchrist at 5:41 PM on February 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


^ I tend to agree that the only military we "need" is the USMC and some part of the USN to support them. If the job is too big for the USMC, better find some allies, fire up the draft, or find nonmilitary pressures to bring to bear.

IMO the USAF is useful in its aerospace and as mentioned above UAV role. It is a mistake to sit around and let potential threats (China, Russia) develop capabilities unanswered.
posted by panamax at 5:52 PM on February 5, 2008


addnd: The United States Space Command deserves a massive budget just due to its frickin' cool name alone.
posted by panamax at 5:54 PM on February 5, 2008


Imagine the budget if they changed their name to Star Command and hired Jason.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:42 PM on February 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


You have no idea what the Air Force actually does, do you?

Well, let's see. Our air defense has only really been tested once in action -- on 9/11 -- and they did nothing at all! Zero for four. And I've followed this question -- really, as an engineer it was intolerable to me that the system failed four times in four! -- and it seems as if no changes of any type have been made.

So "nothing useful" might be a reasonable answer to your question to a skeptical person.

But why shouldn't we cut the air budget? If we seriously believe that we're in a global war against terror, why are we increasing the air budget? We have the largest air force ever in the history of the entire world, is it really good against terrorists? Surely we can't always increase all the military budget, all the time? We're cutting back on everything else in America, education, health, science.... is each single branch of the military more important than all other branches of the government put together?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:24 PM on February 5, 2008


We have the largest air force ever in the history of the entire world

Uh, the USAAF in WW2 had 100,000+ combat aircraft. The US had about three times as many B-24s alone as it has in its entire current aircraft inventory.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:54 PM on February 5, 2008


Our air defense has only really been tested once in action -- on 9/11 -- and they did nothing at all!

hey man, don't knock the 2001-era USAF. They had a killer slogan.
posted by panamax at 8:11 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


The only thing we need LESS than goddamned Stealth aircraft, "tactical" fighter jets, or strategic bombers, (procurement and maintenance of which constitute a huge portion of the Airfarce budget) are frigg'n submarines.

Wrong. We need the submarines to defend our shores from cetacean terrorists. But those damn activist judges are undermining our national security.
posted by homunculus at 8:12 PM on February 5, 2008


Metafilter: Here's my latest conspiracy theory
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:18 PM on February 5, 2008


But my strained but educated guess is the Air Force has something to do with... flying shit around, fighting air to air, and dropping bombs and launching missiles, right?

Ya know, when I have the energy to argue with the last remaining hardcore supporters of the Iraq war I know, I like to point out that with air power we controlled two thirds or Iraq's airspace, and there's no way you're going to win a conventional war without air superiority essentially neutering Saddam. Because if you can't keep a hostile power from owning most of your skies, well...

Just because they haven't been used well lately doesn't mean they can't be better used by people smarter than those currently running the show.

(Apache pilots love working with the fast movers in Iraq, though. They hang around at 50,000 feet or so and use their cameras to spot the enemy and their lasers to guide the Apaches in.)
posted by Cyrano at 9:59 PM on February 5, 2008


I like to point out that with air power we controlled two thirds or Iraq's airspace

UAVs are where it's at, now. I'm willing to fund any amount of research we need & can do in this area.
posted by panamax at 10:41 PM on February 5, 2008



I've tried to get my head around the concept of a billion by imagining what I would do: It usually involves saving $3 million to live off of for the rest of my life, and taking the remaining $997 million and doing something stupidly extravagant like buying some derelict ships and playing Battleship for real, or building a town specifically for the purposes of reenacting my favorite car chase scenes.

I really can't get my head around the idea of a trillion. It's just too much.


Take your $997 million extravaganza and do it 1000 times! That's not so hard, is it? (and you'll have $3 billion left over for your personal living expenses)
posted by ryoshu at 11:02 PM on February 5, 2008


We have the largest air force ever in the history of the entire world
Uh, the USAAF in WW2 had 100,000+ combat aircraft.
Sorry, I meant the most expensive air force or the most powerful air force; yes, I was well aware that in sheer numbers the force is reduced but the destructive power per unit is a full order of magnitude higher than in WWII (and the price is almost two orders of magnitude greater, per unit!)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:54 AM on February 6, 2008


and there's no way you're going to win a conventional war without air superiority essentially neutering Saddam.

Please do not shit us, we are not feeling kindly towards Americans tonight. The air war in Iraq lasted some two weeks, some five years ago. Air superiority was officially established in the first four days and has never been broken. This does not justify an increased air force budget in 2008.

("Saddam"?! He's been dead for a long time!)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:58 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


UAVs are where it's at, now. I'm willing to fund any amount of research we need & can do in this area.

"fund any amount of research"? WTF is wrong with you people? GIVE.... IT.... UP! All the unmanned drones and homeland security will never make you feel safe.... NOTHING will make you feel safe!

You've already spent countless trillions of dollars and yet you still want to spend more, more more more every day and every minute while your children starve and rot in disgusting American schools and people die for want of basic medical care.

I see everyone's out voting for Hillary because you just can't get enough of that warfare! Hillary will make you safe, and McCain -- you know they're good candidates because, you know, they're going to spend MORE on warfare. Hillary's going to spend more on the war AND McCain is going to spend more on the war, so we're guaranteed to spend more on the war, isn't that great?

And I'm sure they'll spend tons of money on your UAVs and any other military toy. So don't worry!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:44 AM on February 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Maybe I missed the part where this got talked about already, but it bears repeating that the $515 billion DOES NOT include the costs of the war in Iraq (or Afghanistan), which will be covered by supplemental requests. With war spending included, it's more like $750 billion (scroll down to the "Defense and War" section).
posted by naoko at 7:07 AM on February 6, 2008


Wow I am glad Bush is gone in a couple months. I like most people know the money spent on defense should go to other areas. 1/2 trillion dollars could do so much more for our country. I cannot imagine all that money in one area. Think of the programs it could fund forever! People complain about crime and uneducated children. Well all that money could make our streets safer and educate children. Shoot for that much you could easily set up a publicly funded don't worry about tuition we will send you there for free system. Instead we are giving it to a bunch of morons who are going to give it to a bunch of rich weapon makers for stuff that we are going to use to blow up people 1/2 way across the world. I'm sure glad we have people that know what they are doing running our country. Because if blowing people up instead of educating and making our country a safer place isn't a good idea I don't know what is! Please note the sarcasm. Seriously I wish I had a flush button. I would flush our whole system down the drain and start over again with people that ACTUALLY care about the country and it's people instead of fattening their own pockets.

God Bless America..... no one else will!

Mastercheddaar
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:58 AM on February 6, 2008


The Legacy of Bush II: Curb your enthusiasm. Even if your favored candidate did well on Super Tuesday, ask yourself if he or she will seriously challenge the bloated military budget that President Bush has proposed for 2009.
posted by homunculus at 4:13 PM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


In other budget news: Bush 'kills' Freedom of Information Act compliance officer
posted by homunculus at 10:18 AM on February 7, 2008


No Funds in Bush Budget For Troop-Benefits Plan
posted by homunculus at 2:18 PM on February 10, 2008


Air Force: $144 Billion a Year Not Enough; Wants $19 Billion More for Stealth Jets, 'Dorm Furnishings'
posted by homunculus at 7:18 PM on February 11, 2008


Asia's Hidden Arms Race: Six Countries Talk Peace While Preparing for War
posted by homunculus at 3:09 PM on February 12, 2008


The economy has supplanted the war at the top of the national agenda – but only because of two mistaken perceptions, writes Gen. William Odom. Contrary to popular belief, the surge isn’t working; it’s just postponing the inevitable. And that looming recession? A trillion-plus dollars squandered in war spending may have something to do with it.
posted by homunculus at 9:51 AM on February 17, 2008


Air Force Blocks Wired Blogs
posted by homunculus at 5:36 PM on February 29, 2008


War is Hell, But What the Hell Does it Cost? One Week at War in Iraq and Afghanistan for $3.5 Billion
posted by homunculus at 2:09 PM on March 4, 2008


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