Magazine article The Nation

Serious Money

Magazine article The Nation

Serious Money

Article excerpt

The share of tax dollars going to defense is much greater than commonly believed, says Paul Murphy, an independent military budget analyst. According to the Office of Management and Budget, "national defense" made up 26 percent of total spending in the fiscal 1990 budget. But Murphy believes it devoured a far larger slice of the fiscal pie.

As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan has reminded us, the Social Security trust fund doesn't really belong in the budget at all. It's paid for by payroll contributions and targeted excise taxes, not income taxes. It was first counted in the unified" budget in 1969, in what some suspect was an effort to dilute the percentage devoured by the steep rise in military costs during the Vietnam era. If all trust funds are subtracted, national defense would make up 32 percent of the budget.

But that's not all. The creature we're stalking has many stomachs to digest the raw cash it devours. There is also military spending that O.M.B. does not identify as such. For instance, military aid to foreign governments - $6.3 billion in 1990 - clearly figures into the Pentagon's strategic planning.

In the past, spending by as many as thirteen military-related agencies was counted as part of national defense. NASA alone will spend roughly $1.2 billion on military activities in 1990.

The fastest growing share of the federal budget is interest on the national debt. A sizable chunk of the debt is attributable to past military spending-just over 50 percent by Murphy's reckoning. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.