The 2013 sequester was initially written to automatically reduce the Pentagon’s budget by $1 trillion over the next decade, but thanks to bipartisan support for defense, the 2013 budget deal restores $32 billion to the Pentagon in 2014. This would mean a base budget of over $600 billion in 2014, greater than it was in 2005 and 2006. The Pentagon budget was already set to stay well above pre-9/11 levels for the next decade, even with sequestration, and would still have seen a much smaller cut than after the winding down of the Vietnam and Cold Wars.
The government has borrowed $1.5 trillion to pay for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of the national debt between 2001 and 2012. When adjusted for inflation, the two wars cost about twice as much as the Vietnam War. Lawrence J. Korb of the Center for American Progress has refuted Pentagon warnings that sequester cuts would have undermined military readiness, making the point that the Pentagon would be prepared enough even if it cut its budget by $100 billion a year (well over the $37 billion in 2013 sequestration cuts).
The U.S. continues to be the world’s top defense spender, spending more than the next ten countries combined, with the Pentagon accounting for nearly 40 percent of the global total and 4.4 percent of the national GDP going to defense in 2012. A fifth of the country’s tax dollars are spent on defense, and the Pentagon employs 3 million people and holds over 80 percent of the federal government’s inventories.
Dave Gilson, “The Budget Deal Is a Big Win for the Pentagon,” Mother Jones, December 2013, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/12/pentagon-budget-deal-charts-cuts.
Student Researcher: Noah Tenney (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)