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War Spending Dwarfs Biden’s Covid, Infrastructure, and Social Spending Plans

Arielle Zionts posts the best graph I’ve seen all week: a simple bar chart comparing the ten-year cost of President Joe Biden’s three biggest pieces of legislation—the covid-fighting American Rescue Plan, the infrastructure bill, and the Manchin-foiled Build Back Better budget bill—with the cost over the next decade of military spending approved by our Democratic Congress:

Stephen Semler, "Biden's Economic Agenda Is Half the Cost of Projected Military Budgets," Substack: Speaking Security, 2021.11.22.
Stephen Semler, “Biden’s Economic Agenda Is Half the Cost of Projected Military Budgets,” Substack: Speaking Security, 2021.11.22.

Biden could help his cause by invoking Pentagon spending, but like other conservative Democrats he doesn’t seem to be interested in dragging military spending into the realm of ‘normal’ politics (thereby evading the normal critiques of government spending). As a result, social spending bills—despite being more urgent/relevant for everyday security than military spending—will continue to bear the brunt of austerity politics [Stephen Semler, “Biden’s Economic Agenda Is Half the Cost of Projected Military Budgets,” Substack: Speaking Security, 2021.11.22].

We shoot our economic and social health in the foot by sinking enormous sums of national wealth into tools to kill people and break things, tools whose best outcome is to lie around and rust, while fretting over relatively small investments in programs that feed and educate children, sustain families, and build roads and bridges and parks and other good things that can add value to our daily lives for years to come.

We could cut our military spending by half and still be spending more on bombs and bullets than China and Russia combined. We could use the savings to pay for President Biden’s Build Back Better plan and reduce the national deficit by over $200 billion a year. America would be more secure economically, and economic security is the surest basis of national security.


  1. Guy 2021-12-22

    Cory, War Spending supposedly does NOT add to “debt” or “inflation” concerns as exhibited by Senators Thune & Rounds and Congressman Johnson…..BUT HEAVEN FORBID we actually spend money to help improve the infrastructure and economy for our own citizens. That’s when Thune, Rounds & Johnson THEN fret about “debt spending” and “inflation”.

  2. grudznick 2021-12-22

    Young Ms. Zionts is a known libbie, not a journalist. Her graphs no doubt are wrong. I’m sure it’s “unintentional.”

  3. Guy 2021-12-22

    Grudz, sorry not everything is “liberal vs conservative” conspiracy. LOL!!! Arielle Zionts is a reputable journalist that works for South Dakota Public Broadcasting and she’s right on with this graph. Cory is “righter than right” to post her graph and back it up with “righter than right” analysis.

  4. DaveFN 2021-12-22

    Your point regarding a better use of defense spending finds no challenge here, but .8.31T over 10 years is 0.831T per year on Pentagon spending. Zionts’ graph is rather misleading with its confusing “disclaimer” “10-year cost” which refers to Pentagon spending only as none of the other categories have been or will be in existence that long. (The Trump administration’s projected Pentagon budget for 2022 was about $722 billion).

    A better analysis looks at defense spending as a percent of GDP as per below. Unfortunately, although the defense spending of many countries is shown below, those countries are not graphed to their respective GDPs as is the case with the US.,%20%203.42%25%20%2056%20more%20rows%20

  5. Porter Lansing 2021-12-22

    How much is America’s share of the Ukrainian War going to be?
    Putin’s got a big army with no combat experience.
    Just like USA did, before Iraq.
    The Generals from America and Russia can’t tolerate green troops.
    War, for practice, always ensues.

  6. jerry 2021-12-22

    Good deal, bring back the draft to put an end to the foolishness.

    Hey veterans, here is something useful for National Park visits, all for free!

    Indeed, you and your family can use this for National Park visits. There’s a couple of them for sure in South Dakota! Let’s go Biden!! Booyah!

  7. ds 2021-12-22

    Well, .831T per year is 831 Billion per year. Times 10 years is 8.31 Trillion. Simple math. Likewise the Biden BBB proposed plan is now at 1.75 Trillion which is .175 Trillion per year which is 175 Billion per year for 10 years. If it was to be confirmed and then a Republican majority was elected, the 1.75 Trillion would never see any more light of day and the Pentagon spending would balloon to way more than 8.31 Trillion. Can you say “B21 upgrade”?
    Conservatives refuse to be vaccinated so the need for Covid Stimulus is on track likely to be here haunting us for at least 10 more years. Just today we purchase another 500 million test…the estimate is $42.13 each… that is another $21 Billion. Those critical of the BBB plan croak about how much it would increase the deficit over the NEXT 10 YEARS.

  8. grudznick 2021-12-22

    For sure, Mr. jerry. The draft should come back immediately and grudznick joins you in calling for Mr. Biden to institute it right now. There are a ton of slackards and others sitting around in underemployed areas of the state who would do well to be sent through a boot camp and do a little character building and hard work. They can then serve our country, the US of A, for a nice career or they can get out with skills and a desire to work.

    Hooah and Booyah, Mr. jerry. grudznick is on your side here!

  9. jerry 2021-12-22

    Looks like Biden, Putin and NATO will parley. “No one wants war”, good news for everyone. I don’t care for Putin, but the dude has a point about not wanting Ukraine to join NATO any more than the US would want Putin in Cuba (hey didn’t that happen once upon a time?)

    “Russia claims it has agreed to begin talks with the US early next year to discuss Moscow’s demands for “security guarantees” in Europe, including a ban on Ukraine’s entrance into the Nato military alliance.

    If confirmed, the talks would begin a contentious effort to avert a Russian offensive in Ukraine this winter, as Kyiv and eastern European governments have demanded not to be left out of any deal with Moscow that affects their interests as well.”

    Let’s go Biden, keeping the peace. Booyah! Cut the bloat out of the military by 50% and bring back the draft.

  10. grudznick 2021-12-22

    Mr. Biden is more confused and addled than grudznick is. Even I know that this Mr. L. L. Cool J. is not a department store or a football player. But Mr. Biden is confuseder than most.

  11. Arlo Blundt 2021-12-22

    Well…the Republican vision of the USA is as a impregnable fortress ringed with lethal weapons and a large standing military force and a dominant Navy that rules all the seas. Add Intercontinental nuclear warheads with first strike potential and an Air Force with awesomely destructive weapons and the fortress is secure. Inside the fortress is a hollow shell, a kingdom of the very rich and an enslaved, docile citizenry.

  12. Porter Lansing 2021-12-22

    grudznick / How is it you’re such an expert on things all over America and the world? You don’t go anywhere and you don’t read anything and you don’t watch movies or television. I’ll bet my goats you’re just a bullshii**er, making things up and trying to con Cory’s blog. What do you think about that? Hmmmmm ? 🐐 🐐🐐🐐🐐🐐🐐

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-23

    (And Guy, come now: when’s the last time you saw Grudz address the actual issues at hand instead of throwing out personal attacks and seeking to get goats?)

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-23

    Thinking about DS’s comment—investing in child care, education, and social programs vaccinates the economy, preventing problems like poverty and crime that will cost far more to address in the future.

  15. larry kurtz 2021-12-23

    Yes, false flags, disaster capitalism, endless war: anyone who believes America is safer because of a military filled with soldiers of fortune is delusional.

    Israel should be a county in Utah or Nevada but the Israeli model of compelling military service and universal gun tolerance should be the future for the United States, too. Compulsory service might even reduce cowboy diplomacy. Thomas Jefferson wrote that a standing army would lead to military adventurism and ultimately turn on its own citizens but now America has become the Hamiltonian empire Jefferson warned us about.

    Just say it: radical christianic terrorism.

  16. O 2021-12-23

    This is what happens when we let money run the money.

  17. Jake 2021-12-23

    Grudz- kindly show proof the graphs are wrong or STFU!!!!

  18. Mark Anderson 2021-12-23

    Grudz, a graph is just a graph. Its the information that it conveys that strikes people. Now if you made a graph of 1 person who would represent the 1 percent and set that against the number people who would represent the 99%. That would be really striking and most people are dead wrong about THAT difference.

  19. Porter Lansing 2021-12-23

    Good one, Larry.
    Israel should have been in America and Texas should be sold to China for some of America’s Chinese debt.

  20. larry kurtz 2021-12-23

    Harry Truman was a war criminal imo, Porter. Not only did he kill hundreds of thousands of people with atomic bombs he poisoned millions of acres of Earth and traded nuclear materiel to Israel for military airports so the Cold War was easier to prosecute.

    He truly is among the ugliest of Americans and one of the worst presidents in US history.

  21. grudznick 2021-12-23

    Lar, you are righter than right. Mr. Truman, in the pocket of Mr. Pendergast of the democratic organization, was a heinous fellow.
    Dropping the bombs was the right idea, though. He saved millions of lives.

  22. Mark Anderson 2021-12-23

    Oh come on Larry, I’ve been to his library in Independence and it’s a nice place. He abolished discrimination in the military in 1948. From where he came that’s a major achievement. His record is mixed because of the war but he also threw out MacArthur. The Marshell plan in Europe was amazing. He didn’t like McCarthy much either. So when you say one of the worst Presidents in history. I’d love to debate you on that. I can always use a win.

  23. grudznick 2021-12-23

    As it is Festivus, an ungodly holiday if there ever was one outside of Valentine’s Day, grudznick counts four goats on this blogging alone which must now be shipped to my CAFO. On Festivus, goat cheese and beet salad is not on the menu, it is red beef meet and mashed potatoes.

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