Shock and Audit
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Shock and Audit: The Hidden Defense Budget

What the Pentagon really spends. Part 1 of a Mother Jones special report.

| Mon Jun. 22, 2009 6:00 AM EDT | Scheduled to publish Mon Jun. 22, 2009 6:00 AM EDT

The Hidden Defense Budget

This year Obama asked Congress for $534 billion to fund the Department of Defense. That's a lot of dough. But the real amount that the US spends on defense is actually much higher.

The Office of Management and Budget calculates a total for defense spending throughout different parts of the government (it includes money allocated to the Pentagon, nuclear weapons activities at the Department of Energy and some security spending in the State Department and FBI). In the 2010 budget, that figure was $707 billion, more than half of the government's discretionary spending for the year. (Discretionary spending is the money that's appropriated every year by Congress, rather than entitlement programs like Medicare for which funding is mandatory).

Source: Office of Management and Budget

But the real number is even higher, because, among other things, the OMB doesn't count supplemental spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've combed through this year's budget documents to add up military-related spending throughout the entire government. Here's what we found:

Pentagon budget 534 billion
Extra appropriations for military personnel 4.1 billion
Iraq and Afghanistan supplemental funding (fiscal year 2010) 130 billion
Iraq and Afghanistan supplemental funding (fiscal year 2009, yet to be signed into law) 82.2 billion
Nuclear weapons and other atomic spending
(Department of Energy)
16.4 billion
Military and economic aid to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan
(State Department)
4.9 billion
Security, counterterrorism assistance, and military aid to foreign countries, including the Middle East and Israel
(State Department)
8.4 billion
Coast Guard spending in the Department of Homeland Security 583 million
Total defense spending throughout the government 780.4 billion


As you'll see, we leaned on the conservative side here by only counting money that's directly related to military activities. We didn't, for instance, add in money for the Department of Veterans Affairs ($55.9 billion), which would take the total to $836.3 billion; or the rest of the Department of Homeland Security ($54.5 billion), which would take it to $890.8. (The wider national security apparatus isn't included either—budgets for the intelligence services are classified.) If we did include these extras, here’s what the difference between the official budget and the real one would look like:

Research credit: Taylor Wiles

Special Report: Shock & Audit

(Links will go live as reports are published.)

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