Mandatory/Entitlement Spending: About three-fifths of the federal budget covers expenses that have been written into law, including payment on the national debt, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.
Discretionary Budget: This is the rest of the budget; the part that the President and Congress create each year. In this most recent (fiscal) year, more than half of the discretionary budget for a toal amount of $463 billion was spent by the Pentagon. These dollars don't include funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan , nor do they include most homeland security programs, which are paid for in other areas of the budget.
In contrast to the $463 billion spent by the Pentagon bureaucracy, look at what we're spending on federal programs that politicians often describe as too expensive:
Here's what this looks like (because I'm a visual person):
$38 billion on K-12 education , $50 billion on children's health insurance, $13 billion on humanitarian foreign aid, $6 billion on job training, $2 billion on renewable energy research, $8 billion on the Environmental Protection Agency.
Why Pick on the Pentagon?
I chose to pick on the Pentagon because they are the Kings of Financial Mismanagement! In a recent DoD-funded report, they found that the DoD couldn't pass an audit, and is therefore unaccountable to the American people. For this report (or, again to check and see that this is an unbiased source), click here. The Pentagon doesn't know what they have in inventory, where it is located, or how much they've spent of their annual budget. That is patently ludicrous.
Why Cutting the Budget Won't Kill Us
A panel of high-ranking retired military and Dept. of Defense officials (put together by TrueMajority, an non-partisan activism organization) says $60 billion can be trimmed from the Pentagon budget without putting our troops at risk, weakening our national defense, or hurting our ability to fight terrorists. According to Dr. Lawrence Korb, (Ronald Reagan's assistant secretary of defense, not a liberal tree-hugger-hippie) the savings would come primarily from cutting obsolete Cold War weapons and excessive nuclear weapons from the defense budget. Note that I said "excessive" nuclear weapons, not all, not most, only the ones that have been deemed unnecessary and perhaps a dangerous burden to protect by our very own Department of Defense. For the full report, or if you just want to verify my source, click here.
Even after trimming $60 billion from the Pentagon budget, America would spend nearly as much on defense as does the rest of the world combined. We would spend more than triple the amount spent by Russia , China , and the "Axis of Evil" (insert eye-roll here) combined.
If $60 Billion Isn't That Much, Does It Matter?
According to the Common Sense Budget Act (introduced by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-CA), the $60 billion could provide health insurace to 9 million American children who lack it, rebuild/modernize all public schools over the next 12 years, retrain 250,000 workers, cut reliance on foreign oil in HALF over the next 10 years, restore recent cuts to medical research, re-invest in Homeland Security by inspecing cargo containers entering our ports, and provide healthcare to impoverished children abroad.
So you tell me; how can we afford NOT to cut Pentagon spending?