The White House and leaders in Congress have reportedly reached a deal to raise the country’s debt limit. Both parties agreed to cut $1 trillion in spending over the next 10 years and an additional $1.2 trillion to be determined by a special committee with “triggers” instituted to split that $1.2 trillion equally between defense and domestic spending if a future deal isn’t reached.
Of course the pro-military industrial complex wing of the GOP is incensed and reliable war-hawk John Bolton is leading the charge. On Fox News this morning, he said military spending should actually be increased. “We have been under spending on defense,” he said. Bolton then embarrassed himself when the host asked him to explain why then, is military spending currently at the highest level since World War II. Bolton deflected the question, saying simply that it’s “complicated”:
HOST: I was struck by something that the Hill newspaper reported yesterday. They said that President Obama’s defense budget for 2012 is $671 billion, the highest since WWII.
BOLTON: They have mixed their numbers up in ways that are too complicated to explain in the next 15 seconds. Let me just say, if you look at the trajectory of budget expenditures in the past three years non-discretionary, discretionary non-defense is way up. Defense spending is down. So treating them as equivalent is comparing apples and oranges. Defense spending is not just another wasteful government program.
No, defense spending — which makes up 50 percent of discretionary spending — is not “down” (see this chart for the illustration) and no, the Hill doesn’t have its numbers mixed up. The numbers show that the Pentagon’s budget “has increased so much over the past decade that it has reached levels not seen since World War II.” CAP’s Larry Korb and Laura Conley note:
Total defense spending in real terms is now higher than at any time since the end of World War II, more than throughout the entire Cold War, and even 10 percent higher than the peak of the Reagan defense buildup. The baseline defense budget has been growing in real terms for 13 straight years—the longest-ever period of sustained real growth in U.S. defense spending.
Perhaps if Bolton had more time to explain those way “too complicated” numbers, he would’ve pointed to meaningless defense spending indicators cooked up by his war-hawk colleagues to hide the truth about out of control military spending.