Recently at church I was challenged when I said that the U.S. military budget was larger than all social expenditures.

Recently at church I was challenged when I said that the U.S. military budget was larger than all social expenditures. So I decided to do some research in order to satisfy myself, as well as my friend, as to the accuracy of my statement.

There is no disputing the fact that the military budget of the United States is essentially the same as all other countries on the face of the globe combined.   

By way of definition, Wikipedia says that, “The military budget is that portion of the U.S. discretionary federal budget that is allotted to the Department of Defense, or more broadly, the portion of the budget that goes to any defense-related expenditures.”

They also point out that the amounts listed under that definition don’t include many military-related items that are outside of the Defense Department budget, such as nuclear weapons research, maintenance, cleanup of contaminated sites, and production which is in the Department of Energy budget.  

It also doesn’t include Veterans Affairs, the Treasury Department’s payments in pensions to military retirees and widows and their families, interest on debt incurred in past wars or State Department financing of foreign arms sales and military-related development assistance. Neither does it include defense spending that is not military in nature, such as the Department of Homeland security, counter-terrorism spending by the FBI, and intelligence gathering spending.  

After a rather exhaustive search, I came to the conclusion that an accurate answer to the question was too big for anyone to answer definitively regardless of their accounting skills. That is partly because millions, perhaps billions, are hidden in what is called the “black budget” which is not open to public scrutiny.  

Probably the most comprehensive and accurate analysis is found in the annual report put out by the War Resisters League in their annual report entitled, “Where your income tax money really goes.”  

Their figures are based on an analysis of detailed tables in the “Analytical Perspectives” book of the Budget of the United States Government. WRL notes that the government practice of combining trust and federal funds that began during the Vietnam War makes the portion of the budget covering human needs seem larger and the military portion smaller.  

Using their professional analysis which combines past and current expenditures, 54 percent of our total federal budget goes to the military and 46 percent for non-military, i.e. education, health, social security, etc.  Thus, when the Obama, or any other Administration, looks for savings it must necessarily focus on the military portion of the budget.

More importantly one should note that even if cuts in the military budget are made, it does NOT necessarily follow that our security as a nation is in any way lowered.