Money & The Economy

Rebuttal of de Rugy’s and Winslow Wheeler’s blatant lies about defense spending

In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act. – George Orwell

Anti-defense organizations such as POGO and the CDI (both of whom employ professional blowhard and liar Winslow Wheeler) routinely and falsely claim that the US spends almost $1 trillion per year on “defense” or the military. Late last year, libertarian propagandist Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center at GMU joined them in propagating this blatant lie, uncritically repeating Winslow Wheeler’s false $930 bn figure and presenting it in a table.

But they are lying. How?

Firstly, they falsely claim that Budget Category #050 (“National Defense” in OMB/CBO classification) contained $676 bn in FY2012. But actual data from the OMB says it was $670 bn, and even that is overestimated, because the entire US military budget for FY2012 (the base budget plus OCO spending plus spending on the Energy Department’s nat-sec programs) was $633 bn, not $670 bn or $676 bn, in FY2012. (In FY2013, the maximum authorized amount, per the FY2013 NDAA, is $613 bn.)

Secondly, de Rugy and Wheeler falsely claim various larger and smaller budgetary items as being “defense spending” or “military spending”, even though the vast majority of them have no military nature and have nothing whatsoever to do with defense (though many of them are loosely related to the much broader mission of “national security”, the most important and basic function of the federal government).

In other words, de Rugy and Wheeler dishonestly count many budgetary items as “defense spending” in order to deliberately exaggerate its scale and thus to mislead the public.

These items are: the Department of Veterans’ Affairs budget ($124 bn), the “international affairs budget” ($61 bn), the DHS’s budget ($46 bn), and the DOD’s healthcare programs ($21 bn). They falsely and dishonestly claim that 100% of all of these items counts as “defense spending” and add it to the military budget to arrive at a figure of $928 bn for FY2012.

Needless to say, their claims are utterly false.

Let’s review each of these items and see whether they really count as “defense spending” or “military spending”, which properly defined means  spending on the US military itself as an institution – specifically, to pay, feed, clothe, train, heal, and house the members of the US military and to provide them with the resources (including, but not solely, weapons) with which to defend the nation and carry out all their missions, and the bases where they live, work, and train.

Let’s see if the budget items which Wheeler and de Rugy dishonestly claimed as “defense spending” really count as such:

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs ($124 bn): This agency cares for past members of the military – those who no longer serve. It provides them with care, including medical care. It exercises no military functions whatsoever and has nothing whatsoever with the mission of defending America. Thus, it does not count as “military” or “defense” spending.
  • The Department of Homeland Security ($46 bn): This civilian agency, while having the mission of protecting the US, is a purely civilian and purely domestic agency. It does not prepare anyone for war and does not carry out any military operations. Its only similarly with the DOD is that it shares its broader mission of protecting America and Americans from harm… and that’s where the similarities end. It has nothing whatsoever to do with America’s military defense or the US military, save for US Coast Guard, a $5 bn portion of the DHS’s $46 bn annual budget.
  • The international affairs budget ($61 bn): Again, it has nothing to do with the US military or with defending America. In fact, it doesn’t have anything to do with martial issues at all, save for its small part which finances the training and equipping of certain foreign militaries (the majority of this goes to just two countries: Israel and Egypt). The vast majority of this $61 bn pot of money, however, is civilian in nature: humanitarian aid, the UN’s Millenium Challenge, fighting AIDS, US embassies and consulates, consular services, etc. Yet, de Rugy, Wheeler, POGO, and CDI falsely claim all $124 bn of this money as “defense spending”, which is a blatant lie.
  • The DOD’s healthcare programs ($21 bn): as this is a DOD program and as it pays for the healthcare of current members of the US military, this may be legitimately claimed as military spending. However, this small, $21 bn pot of money hardly changes anything in the equation.

So the vast majority of what de Rugy, Wheeler, POGO, and CDI claim as “defense” or “military spending” isn’t “defense/military spending” at all. It’s purely civilian spending and has nothing whatsoever to do with the US military and the mission of defending America; foreign aid doesn’t even have anything to with the much broader mission of national security or protecting the country, as its only purpose is for the transfer of wealth from rich to poor countries under utopian globalist schemes.

Adding the DOD’s healthcare program ($21 bn) and the Coast Guard ($5 bn) to the joint DOD-DOE military budget for FY2012 ($633 bn per the FY2012 NDAA) brings the total to $659 bn, almost $300 bn below the $928 bn number that de Rugy and Wheeler falsely  claimed and deliberately use to mislead the public.

To be clear: whatever its size is, the defense budget – and the entire rest of the federal budget – should be examined for potential savings and efficiencies – as it has already been several times since 2009. Since there is broad political agreement that such examination for potential efficiencies should be made, there is no reason to wildly exaggerate the size of the defense budget.

But de Rugy (who isn’t even an American), Wheeler, POGO, and CDI don’t care about that. They’re not interested in the truth, in careful defense savings, in the country’s security, or in the nation’s fiscal health. All they care about is gutting the US military – POGO and the CDI were founded for that very purpose, and POGO is today generously co-financed by George Soros through his Open Society Institute.

They and other enemies of America’s defense must be prevented from achieving their goal. America’s and the world’s security depends on it. And to do that, we defense conservatives must first present the public with the facts and counter de Rugy’s and Wheeler’s blatant lies. Intellectual disarmament always precedes actual disarmament.

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