Obama’s Military Budget: The Largest Since World War II

Obama’s defense budget larger than any other president’s since World War II

The vast majority of people in the USA, including Congressmen and analysts, have little idea just how large the Pentagon’s defense budget increases have been under President Obama.

Except for George W. Bush’s presidency, Obama’s military-budget request is larger than any other president’s defense budget since the death of Franklin Roosevelt in April 1945.

If one subtracted a sum of $52 billion mandated by the Budget Control Act from the $612 billion defense budget Obama requested for 2014, they would see that the Pentagon spends billions of dollars above what the US spent during the Cold War, Vietnam and Korean wars.

Every year the Pentagon publishes the Green Book or “National Defense Budget Estimates”, which many believe to be the “bible” of defense budget analysts.

The graphs of the Green book shows that the USA is now near a post-World War II low which is, according to many defense-spending boosters, is a dangerous trend that needs to be reversed. But all the data collected for the Green book, while technically accurate, are misused, as the numbers in it represent not money actually spent, but the sum of annual Pentagon spending as part of the total American economy.

The American economy has grown faster than defense spending since World War II, so the ratio shows that 3.2% of the national budget will be given to the military in 2014, and during the Reagan-era 5.9% of the budget was dedicated to the defense.

All this is true, but irrelevant, as the economy shrank that year which means that the defense budget also shrank, and the ratio showed an increase. An illusory “shrinkage” in defense spending can appear if the defense budget goes up and the economy goes up even more.

The dollar has also a different purchasing value in different years: the buying power of the dollars appropriated at the end of World War II had a buying power very different from the dollars requested by Obama for 2014.

If we take into consideration the effects of inflation and equalize the purchasing power of appropriated dollars across years, the $34 billion appropriated for 1945 had a buying power even higher than the $612 billion sought for 2014. But the Defense Department uses deceptive formulas to measure the inflation.

Due to the disclosures by the caucus and GAO (Government Accountability Office), the Pentagon made some adjustments to its calculation of inflation, all the bias hasn’t been removed so far, and neither Congress nor any executive-branch official has required the Pentagon to decide the continuing problem.

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