The Pentagon Budget as Corporate Welfare for Weapons Makers


One of the recurring themes of this website over the years has been the free ride too many “conservatives” give to the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex. The military is big big government and it goes far beyond “defense” as enumerated in the Constitution. It is too large. It is too expensive. It is too wasteful. It is deeply crony and bureaucratic. In many respects the military is the biggest government of all.

Sure it’s needed. But conservatives need to get real. The taxpayers are just being abused.

One thing is for sure. The military is asked to do too much. But that doesn’t mean that we should just keep asking it to do too much and keep throwing taxpayer dollars at it. That doesn’t make sense.


What company gets the most money from the U.S. government? The answer: the weapons maker Lockheed Martin. As the Washington Post recently reported, of its $51 billion in sales in 2017, Lockheed took in $35.2 billion from the government, or close to what the Trump administration is proposing for the 2019 State Department budget. And which company is in second place when it comes to raking in the taxpayer dollars? The answer: Boeing with a mere $26.5 billion. And mind you, that’s before the good times even truly begin to roll, as TomDispatch regular and weapons industry expert William Hartung makes clear today in a deep dive into the (ir)realities of the Pentagon budget.  When it comes to the Department of Defense, though, perhaps we should retire the term “budget” altogether, given its connotation of restraint. Can’t we find another word entirely? Like the Pentagon cornucopia?

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that perfectly sober reportage about Pentagon funding issues isn’t satire in the style of the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz.  Take, for instance, a recent report in the Washington Examiner that Army Secretary Mark Esper and other Pentagon officials are now urging Congress to release them from a September 30th deadline for fully dispersing their operation and maintenance funds (about 40% of the department’s budget).  In translation, they’re telling Congress that they have more money than even they can spend in the time allotted.

It’s hard to be forced to spend vast sums in a rush when, for instance, you’re launching a nuclear arms “race” of one by “modernizing” what’s already the most advanced arsenal on the planet over the next 30 years for a mere trillion-plus dollars (a sum that, given the history of Pentagon budgeting, is sure to rise precipitously).  In that context, let Hartung usher you into the wondrous world of what, in the age of The Donald, might be thought of (with alliteration in mind) as the Plutocratic Pentagon.

Click here for Hartung’s piece.