Does the US really need to spend $800bn on its military? — Analysis
Joe Biden’s likely request for a record-breaking defense budget shows America’s priorities remain all wrong
Biden expects to request Congress for a record breaking military budget in fiscal 2023. The figure could surpass $770 billion.
While the story has yet to be confirmed, there are many reasons to believe its veracity – and it raises serious questions about the country’s direction.
First, American military contractors are expected to be successful. They have an enviable position in Congress as influential lobbyists and have close ties with the US government. Take a look at some statements that powerful industry figures have made public.
James Taiclet (CEO of Lockheed Martin) told investors during a quarterly earnings conference on January 25, that “there’s renewed great power competition that does include national defense and threats to it,”His company should be capable of meeting the increased demand for defense expenditures in the future, he said.
Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes went one step further in his earnings call on the same day. On his earnings call, he stated that Raytheon is experiencing a surge in sales. “opportunities for international sales”There are many conflicts in the world that require more defence spending, so America will have to spend more.
He explained, “We just have to look to last week where we saw the drone attack in the UAE, which have attacked some of their other facilities. There are tensions across the globe, including in Eastern Europe. These tensions, along with the South China Sea tensions, have put pressure on the South China Sea defense budget. So, I fully expect we’re going to see some benefit from it.”
Do these guys know something we don’t? Yes, they know. The priorities mentioned in the Reuters report for Biden’s spending request would directly impact their companies – for example, modernizing the country’s ‘Nuclear Triad’, updating missile systems, and acquiring new fighter jets, such as Lockheed’s F-35.
One other point you should mention about this possible increase in spending is the fact that although Biden expects to request $770 billion from Congress, Congress is likely to approve a much larger amount. Given this year’s record-high inflation, it means that defense spending will have to increase substantially – to at least over $850 billion – just to keep pace.
Congress has an exemplary track record in giving defense departments more than they asked for. That is something that crosses partisan boundaries. As an example, the budget request during Donald Trump’s final year in office was for $752.9 billion, but that was increased by $25 billion to arrive at a total of $778 billion for the fiscal year 2022. It is possible to expect this trend to continue.
Ironically, Biden spoke six months ago promising a paradigm change in American foreign policy. “forever wars” and attempts to “remake other countries” with the military. Although there were some asterisks that could be added to this, now it seems like the US will not divert war resources at home to important programs, but rather direct them to new fronts during the forever war as the military contractors suggested.
Covid-19 continues to kill thousands every day in the United States. It would make sense for government to invest more in its healthcare system if human life and well-being were truly valued. Pre-pandemic, there was a lot of death due to lack of basic healthcare.
At the time of writing, America’s student debt crisis has reached a monumental total of $1,883,629,046,704.The USA is not an affordable country to pursue higher education. Young people are suffering from crippling debt even though their loan payments have been stopped by the epidemic. In fact, so inaccessible has education become that enrollment in colleges and universities is plummeting – and the White House has gone as far as to describe this problem as a looming national security threat.
There also more basic things to consider, such as the country’s collapsing infrastructure. Sure, Biden passed a bipartisan, $1 trillion infrastructure bill – but this doesn’t even come close to addressing the US’ massive needs. This is all about climate change and retrofitting or modernizing existing infrastructure. But the Congress has stalled on that plan. The country could use a Green New Deal to both adapt to the future and build new infrastructure, with Texas’ flimsy, independent power grid providing a prime example why.
It tells you a lot about America that a $770 billion-plus defense budget is being seriously discussed while the country has all of these gaping wounds – and Biden’s legislative plan to put a band aid on them, the Build Back Better bill, is jammed in Congress. It’s even more galling that this desperately needed funding is being diverted to the military because of situations that the US helped create in the first place.
And while you might think this makes no sense, the net result will be the age-old story of a wealth transfer from taxpayers to military contractors and their shareholders, the people who need help least – as is ever the case in America.
Statements, opinions and views expressed in this column do not reflect those of RT.