Pentagon profligacy: prime place for budget cuts?

Pentagon: n. the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, “the Pentagon” is often refers to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself. The five-sided building is one of the largest office buildings in the world and houses 26,000 employees. (!)

Profligacy: n. wild extravagance

Prime: adj. the best choice or part

If Obama needs to cut spending (so the rest of us can live, work, learn, have health care) he should start at the Pentagon – the Dept of Defense. According to Frida Berrigan of the War Resisters League, military spending has gone thru the roof under the Current Occupant’s reign:

Under President George W. Bush, military spending increased by about 60%, and that’s not including spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Eight years ago, as Bush prepared to enter the Oval Office, military spending totaled just over $300 billion. When Obama sets foot in that same office, military spending will total roughly $541 billion, including the Pentagon’s basic budget and nuclear warhead work in the Department of Energy.

And remember, that’s before the Global War on Terror enters the picture. The Pentagon now estimates that military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost at least $170 billion in 2009, pushing total military spending for Obama’s first year to about $711 billion (a number that is mind-bogglingly large and at the same time a relatively conservative estimate that does not, for example, include intelligence funding, veterans’ care, or other security costs).

With such numbers, it’s no surprise that the United States is, by a multiple of nearly six, the biggest military spender in the world. (China’s military budget, the closest competitor, comes in at a “mere” $120 billion.) Still, it can be startling to confront the simple fact that the U.S. alone accounts for nearly half of all global military spending.

Here is the priceless demo by Ben Cohen explaining the defense budget in Oreo cookies:

or the cartoon version for True Majority:

I don’t presume to know where the cuts should take place but I feel confident that there is more waste in the DOD than any other government agency.  The ties between the military and industry are stronger than eve, and their lobbyists are among the most powerful.

The skies the limit when our reptilian brain (FEAR!!!!) is engaged…

Obama will have his hands full.

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