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The Senate Just Gave the Pentagon an $82 Billion Boost. That's More Money Than Russia's Entire Military Budget.

Democrats will oppose anything Trump wants, unless it's more money for the Pentagon.

akg-images/Newscomakg-images/NewscomThere are few bipartisan projects in Congress these days, but Republicans and Democrats have no trouble joining together to feed more money into the Pentagon's gaping maw.

By a vote of 85-10 on Thursday morning, the Senate approved the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—technically known as the "John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act" because you wouldn't vote against something named after an American hero, right? It serves as the budget for the U.S. military, which this year is receiving $716 billion, an increase of $82 billion from last year. That increase was agreed upon in March as part of an overall two-year budget deal that smashed Obama-era spending caps and boosts military spending by $165 over the next two years.

It's not just that military spending crosses party lines, but that it smooths over nearly every political division in Washington today. Democrats have shown virtually no interest in Trump's major policy priorities, but only seven Democrats plus Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats, voted against Trump's new nukes. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) were the only Republicans to vote against the NDAA. An attempt by Sander, Lee, and some other senators to include an amendment prohibiting the Pentagon from continuing to participate in an unauthorized war in Yemen was defeated.

The spending increase will allow the Pentagon to buy more fighter jets, to create "cyberwarfare units," and to develop new, smaller nuclear weapons. There is, however, no Space Force. The extra $82 billion will "bring us back to a position of primacy," Defense Secretary James Mattis said in February.

To put the Pentagon's $82 billion funding increase in perspective, consider that Russia's entire military budget totals only $61 billion. China, which boast the next most expensive military in the world after the United States, plans to spend about $175 billion this year.

Maybe the problem isn't how much funding the military receives, but how the money it already gets is spent. Unfortunately, we don't know much about that because the Pentagon has still not been subjected to a full scale audit, despite the fact that all federal agencies and departments were ordered to undergo mandatory audits in 1990. A preliminary audit of one office within the Pentagon found more than $800 million could not be located. Auditors said the Pentagon's Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)—described as "the military's Walmart" because it's responsible for processing supplies and equipment—has financial management "so weak that its leaders and oversight bodies have no reliable way to track the huge sums it's responsible for."

Whether it's investing in bomb-sniffing elephants, paying $8,000 for something that should cost $50, or the famous $640 toilet seat, there's no shortage of absurd waste in the Pentagon. A Reuters probe in 2013 found "$8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out to the Pentagon since 1996 … has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China's economic output [for 2012]."

"To give the Defense Department more money without making sure the waste is addressed is foolish and strategically unwise," Bonnie Kristian, a fellow at Defense Priorities, wrote for Reason earlier this year.

But Congress and the White House have no such qualms about handing the Pentagon more money to burn.

Photo Credit: akg-images/Newscom

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  • BYODB||

    I'm curious...if we spent as much on military hardware as we do on transfer payment programs how much larger would our military budget be than the budgets of most of the rest of the world combined?

  • Libertymike||

    Your question implicitly assumes that we know the actual total of all military / national security / national surveillance expenditures.

    We don't.

  • 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed||

    Oh hey beat me to it.

  • BYODB||

    It also assumes that we know the actual total of all transfer payments made through our various welfare programs, but in either case it's something of a joke on my part since the waste and expenditures of the DoD pale in comparison to wealth transfer programs.

    Excessive hand-wringing over defense spending is sort of amusing to me when those who wring their hands appear to have no issue with waste or spending outside of this narrow category most of the time.

    Also, this isn't a statement aimed at you or anyone in particular at reason. More like society in general.

  • Libertymike||

    Yes, there are many who fit your description BYODB and it, at times, amuses me. Other times, it infuriates me.

    Being a consistent anarchist, I rail against free dinero for Pedro with at least equal fervor.

  • BYODB||


    Being a consistent anarchist, I rail against free dinero for Pedro with at least equal fervor.

    At least I can understand that position, even while it's not one I agree with.

    I don't get the people who think that national defense is a subordinate concern to welfare. That's just insane.

  • BYODB||

    And, also, to be clear the bit I disagree with is anarchy in general rather than your second bit but I suspect you already know this.

  • Yellow Tony||

    I think most people commenting on Reason want both the defense and welfare sectors drastically cut, and the latter eliminated. Thus, in this forum, constantly bringing up how we spend way more on welfare whenever the topic of defense spending appears is pointless. But I understand what you mean, man.

  • BYODB||

    Likely so, but what are the comments for it not to state the obvious time and time again.

    Actually, nevermind. Don't answer that. I've seen what some of you use this place for. I don't judge, but I don't want to get sticky either.

  • Agammamon||

    Are we counting 'contingency operations' in this? Because that swell the military budget considerably by itself - and its never part of the quoted number when DoD budget numbers are totaled.

  • Libertymike||

    Oh noes, if wezis cut dem soldgerz pay, themz mullaz and bad boyz will come and getz us.

  • John||

    That money could have been spent on homes for the families of the toddlers Trump is terrorizing down on the border.

  • Libertymike||

    Some of the Oakland and San Francisco homeless might enjoy life in one of those tents.

  • John||

    I am pretty sure they are getting nicer ones from the city and would never lower themselves to living in a military tent.

  • Libertymike||

    You are surely familiar with a certain mindset of some homeless in that they would rather be on the street than even in plush digs.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And some just won't give up drugs or alcohol, even for free digs. There's a lot of different type of homeless. I think one problem that makes it so difficult to deal with is that they are treated as a monolithic group. While there's quite a few different reasons for homelessness.

  • Agammamon||

    Would have been a better ROI.

    Hey! We need to pay welfare down there so that we don't have to pay welfare up here! Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket.

  • John||

    Hey lets let the entire world now that a free meal is waiting for them here. What could possibly go wrong?

  • Agammamon||

    But the free meal isn't waiting for them *here* - its being delivered *there*, so they don't have to come here.

  • 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed||

    Are we really that confident we know Russian spending? Or China?

  • Yellow Tony||

    I hope we never do because if it's even one cent more than what we're currently paying, then our overlords would authorize more money to be expended on our stupid conflicts around the world.

  • BYODB||

    Certainly not, and the idea that we do is naive.

    Nevermind that American spending on military weapons probably includes little things like triple redundancy whereas the Russian or Chinese version doesn't give a fuck. I'm not defending wasteful spending, just making a point.

    How many around here would support less reliable, but far cheaper, weapons of war at the cost of service member lives? How many would support manufacturing those cheaper weapons of war in China to lower their labor costs on the basis of free trade?

  • Agammamon||

    When your *white* budget is larger than the next 8 countries (including 6 of them that are nominal enemies and the next two largest military budgets - China and Russia), cutting the budget in half would still give us more reliable systems than our enemies.

    In any case, our major strength is not in how good our weapons systems are but in how good our logistics train is and how good our people are, and our 'corporate culture' within the military. We could do better than Russia with Russian equipment.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||


    How many would support manufacturing those cheaper weapons of war in China to lower their labor costs on the basis of free trade?.

    What do you mean support? The Chinese were manufacturing military grade computer chips for the USA. Not sure that we are still getting them from China (link is from 2012)

    China Computer Chips

  • Iheartskeet||

    We probably don't.

    Even if they were being trustworthy, countries count defense spending in different ways (pensions, health care, yada yada)

    On top of that, one would have to apply a PPP adjustment. A Chinese soldier has a completely different cost than a US soldier, but you're just as dead if you get shot by either.

    Even then military capability is very difficult to quantify. The cost to defend against threat X may be much much more expensive than being the aggressor with threat X.

    I could be more tired of hearing this stupid "we spend more than the next x countries" line. Its meaningless. The bottom line is "do we have a decisive deterrent or not ?"

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Christ, what a bunch of assholes.

  • Just Say'n||

    What are you talking about? This is exactly the kind of policy that's up your alley. You were just complaining that people were mocking Weld for being a pro-war statist in the last thread?

    Do you have any original thoughts?

  • Libertymike||

    I'm still pissed with Gorsuch and Thomas regarding the Wayfair case.

  • Yellow Tony||

    Play nice, man. We're all here to caress each other's cheeks and compliment one another's tastes in gay porn.

  • Just Say'n||

    This idiot cheerleader calls people right-wingers for attacking the ACLU, because they don't defend any form of "freedom of association" when he was just condemning anyone who didn't support complete "open borders", because they were violating "freedom of association".

    Then he tells people who were mocking Bill Weld for being pro-war and Matt Welch for being pro-NATO to go to Lew Rockwell.com.

    Go get your pom poms now and contradict everything you just said. I wouldn't care if it weren't for the fact that he spends every waking minute attacking everyone else

  • Yellow Tony||

    I think we need a naked hug-in. Say'n, I'll let you be in the middle because it seems like you need the most love. I'll position Chipper in front of you and have you two rub each other's chests together in a form of natural male bonding. The feelings of brotherhood will bloom and all will be happy. (Though I will be a bit jealous.)

  • Libertymike||

    A suggestion: let his Excellency, the right honorable Righteous Feelz, play a prominent role in the bonding. He is a good doobie.

    You know who really needs the naked hug-in? Well, on second thought, better to not name names as I promised myself I would no longer refer to any misanthropic posters, so we'll let it go.

  • Yellow Tony||

    I wouldn't mind letting Sparky death-hug me if it means he would be a tad nicer. He's a good guy underneath his digital facade, mike.

  • Libertymike||

    Yes, you are probably right.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I asked him why he is so saucy yesterday. He responded with deep confusion. I can only hope Sparky goes on a soulside journey to discover soon.

  • Yellow Tony||

    It's well known that most people in government can be united at the thought of blowing shit up.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    To be fair, blowing things up can be a lot of fun.

  • Ron||

    the Pentagoon's budget could be cut in half and we could still fight every country.

  • Longtobefree||

    The trick is to not fight them.
    The other trick is to win when you do have to fight them.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""the Pentagoon's budget could be cut in half and we could still fight every country."'

    Probably not. Munitions alone are very expensive.

    There's a reason that Bush used emergency funding to fund the Iraq war opposed to adding it to the budget. Modern warfare is very, very expensive.

  • Yellow Tony||

    Modern warfare is very, very expensive.
    That's why my idea of girl-plane hybrids is a brilliant idea.

  • Agammamon||

    And the reason is that its much harder to get Congress to authorize a massive increase in the DoD budget - because these guys can barely *make* a budget in the best of times - vice just, with his pen and his phone, getting that increase done 'off the books' so to speak.

    Either way, we still had the money (er, still had the deficit spending), but 'contigency operations' don't count against the deficit limit and you don't have a nice single number a reporter can use to show the Pentagon's budget quintupling inside a decade.

  • Yellow Tony||

    However, I will say this: I would be okay with increasing our military spending if and only if we could replace our entire fleet of aircraft with cute girls. Now, you might be thinking "What does that mean, and are you retarded?"
    To your first question, I want most of our R&D to be dedicated to creating a cute girl plane hybrid. And once those deadly cuties are created, I want a documentary crew to follow them around so that the whole world can see how effective our little killers are at their job, and the cute things they do while not bombing some brown people! (Which is pretty cute in of itself!)
    With respect to the second question, if you're asking this now after all the stuff I've posted, then I think you're a bit slow yourself.
    PLEASE JESUS

  • Iheartskeet||

    Hmmm. You're on to something here.

    Perhaps all this fighting is just due to male restlessness ? It might be cheaper to simply supply all the world's disaffected young males with weekly 'ho vouchers. Maybe that would undermine militarism worldwide.

  • Rich||

    technically known as the "John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act"

    but jocularly known as "John's Act"?

  • Yellow Tony||

    Holy shit! Our John is the John McCain?
    Fuck.

  • BYODB||

    Our John is way more Republican than McCain, I think.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    John Bolton

  • Just Say'n||

    War is the objective of both parties. Good thing no one fed into the paranoia by pushing totally not insane, but clearly insane Russia fever dreams.

  • Yellow Tony||

    But Trump does have Russia fever. Look at the owner of the vagina he pounds every night while eating his Big Mac.
    Hmm. I wonder if he eats her out and thus her va-jay-jay always has the scent of McD's burgers.
    The thought leaves me hungry, aroused, but also a tiny bit unfulfilled.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Hey, that's not special sauce!

  • perlchpr||

    The extra $82 billion will "bring us back to a position of primacy," Defense Secretary James Mattis said in February.

    Compared to what? Our previous position of utter military submission?

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    We finally closed the mine shaft gap.

  • JoeBlow123||

    I do not think we are as far ahead as you guys think. The Chinese military budget, just like their economic numbers, I think is a giant crock of shit. They also have some very good technology and honestly I think they would beat us in a limited war right now. Against their humongous amount of ships and planes and people in China we have a few aircraft squadrons, one aircraft carrier, like 8 destroyers, 3 cruisers, a few subs, 8th Army in Korea, and one III Marine Exped Force in Okinawa. It is small potatoes compared to what the Chinese can muster.

    Our current situation vis a vis China (growing weakness) we can thank our endless forays into the Middle East to secure god knows what for who and retarded Pentagon procurements over the past decades. Whatever lead we had before Gulf War I is gone, we are virtually at military parity with China or soon will be.

  • Napoleon Bonaparte||

    Hey, that Space Force isn't gonna build itself.

  • Yellow Tony||

    There is, however, no Space Force.


    And we won't build it either. Guess we'll have to wait for our greatest citizen, Elon Musk, to build a branch for our intrepid space troopers.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Eventually we will. Long, long ways to go.

    However in another 150 years, Space Force will have Trumps name all over it since he's the one that started it. The great founder. That's probably what Trump is thinking. He loves his name on everything.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    There is a rehab center in Queens called Trump Pavilion.

    I would guess each square of toilet paper has his name on it.

  • Yellow Tony||

    Are you telling me that on the hull of the U.S.S. Trump, a giant mural of his face will be painted on it? Because I think that would freak out the space Chinese and space Jews, and I'm all for it.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    That increase was agreed upon in March as part of an overall two-year budget deal that smashed Obama-era spending caps and boosts military spending by $165 over the next two years.

    That seems like a bargain to me.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    A pentagon clerk has a thing for proofreaders and access to enough budget dust to indulge in whimsy. There are facilities full of them scattered around the country. People think they are FEMA camps. People are wrong.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Takes money to make money!

  • Jerryskids||

    China, which boast the next most expensive military in the world after the United States, plans to spend about $175 billion this year.

    What the hell do they do with the rest of the $800 billion they steal from us every year?

  • Yellow Tony||

    Invest it in Japan so they can eventually take over the anime, manga, and light novel industry.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Hookers and blow?

  • BYODB||

    Well, notably it's not surprising their expenditures would be lower than ours given that we provide most of their R&D by proxy.

  • Jerryskids||

    Not if you include as defense spending the upkeep on that big beautiful wall they got. And say what you want about Trump's plan for a wall, there ain't no Mexicans sneaking into China, is there?

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    Guitars? Cadillacs? Hillbilly music?

  • Echospinner||

    Shame about Gibson. I think they still make guitars.

    I am more of a drum guy. Just a hobby now. I still have a Ludwig drum key from the first kit when I was 12. They are gone. You can still find a set of Vistalites and be John Bonham for a while.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    "War is the health of the State," right? Both parties are statists, so it's not exactly surprising that both parties support increased DoD spending.

  • mtrueman||

    "so it's not exactly surprising that both parties support increased DoD spending."

    It's somewhat surprising. Increased welfare spending means more inner city people buying more beer and smokes. The money circulates just as god intended. More DoD spending amounts to more explosions with little else to show for it, certainly not victory in the field, for example.

  • Agammamon||

    *sigh*

    More military spending means more beer and smokes for military personnel and contractors. So it gets circulated just as God intended either way.

  • Lowdog||

    mtrueman doesn't really understand things. Generally.

  • mtrueman||

    Too bad we couldn't get something useful for our money like pyramids or a giant wall.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    Increased welfare spending means more inner city people buying more beer and smokes.
    Freedom is Slavery
    The money circulates just as god intended.
    Ignorance is Strength
    More DoD spending amounts to more explosions with little else to show for it, certainly not victory in the field...
    War is Peace

  • Z565||

    Democrat opposition to this kind of wasteful spending is 400% greater than Republican opposition.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Well when you put it that way maybe they are the antiwar party

  • jagjr||

    To put the Pentagon's $82 billion funding increase in perspective, consider that Russia's entire military budget totals only $61 billion. China, which boast the next most expensive military in the world after the United States, plans to spend about $175 billion this year.

    yiou're

  • Dan S.||

    According to faux-Russian blogger Sorcha Faal at http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index2592.htm, the purpose of the $82 billion increase is "to begin the combat preparations for" "the United States' planned invasion of Mexico". And a link to this page is used as evidence! Even though the word "Mexico" appeared nowhere on this page, prior to this comment. Just thought I'd let people know.

  • Dan S.||

    Remove the comma from the end of that URL, of course. Really, commas, periods, and any other characters that can't legitimately end a URL ought not to be included as part of a link destination.

  • jagjr||

    To put the Pentagon's $82 billion funding increase in perspective, consider that Russia's entire military budget totals only $61 billion. China, which boast the next most expensive military in the world after the United States, plans to spend about $175 billion this year.

    you're comparing apples to pomegranates to trout. each nation includes wildly differing content in those budgets.

  • dpbisme||

    So we can just leave out some facts and think we are brilliant. He must vote for Democrats.

    Let's see Russia has no economy, few people, does not support the spread of Democracy and Freedom, makes it's money selling arms to bad actors in the world, is aligned with China when ever it suits either of them to take freedom from people around the globe, they are bellicose, few to none of their neighbors trust them...and if they did not have NUKES no one would care about them.

    I mean we are talking about a "Second World" country that has been spreading death and destruction for over 80 years. The Middle East, Africa, and South of our borders is a mess because of them trying to spread "World Wide Revolution"..

    So when so guy writes a silly headline like this you might want to put it in context...

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