Politics

Here Are 8 Things President Trump Can Pay For Instead of Increasing Military Spending

February 27th 2017

By:
Mike Rothschild

President Donald Trump is proposing a budget for 2018 that calls for a $54 billion increase in military spending, sources within the administration have told The Washington Post and other outlets. While Trump's fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget hasn't been finalized, that figure would represent a 10 percent increase over the current military budget — the world's largest — and the administration indicates it will pay for it by slashing spending on everything else. This includes social programs and foreign aid. 

The National Priorities Project tracks federal spending, and the non-profit, non-partisan organization's data shows just how much money the U.S. already spends on its military. Indeed, the U.S. already spends more money on the military than the next seven biggest spenders combined.

"There is ample money within the Pentagon budget that could be put to better use," NPP Lindsay Koshgarian Research Director told ATTN:. "For example, The Washington Post recently broke a story about a Pentagon-commissioned report that identified $25 billion per year in wasteful bureaucratic spending."

The federal government currently has a budget of over $4 trillion in Fiscal Year 2017, the last year for which President Obama had control over spending. However, over 60 percent of that figure is mandated for Social Security and Medicare; Trump has vowed not to touch this money. Military spending makes up another 15 percent of the budget, at $632 billion, and 7 percent is spent on servicing the national debt.

This chart shows, for comparison, what President Obama's last budget proposal looked like:

FY 2017 budget

All of the discretionary spending of the federal government comes from the 18 percent left — money which President Trump has vowed to slash. 

According to Koshgarian, the increase is more money than the entire discretionary budget of the departments of Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Energy, Justice or State. The NPP's research has revealed that the equivalent amount of money could provide, among other things: 

  • 653,893 Elementary School Teachers for 1 Yearor
  • 713,461 Clean Energy Jobs Created for 1 Yearor
  • 5.93 million Head Start Slots for Children for 1 Yearor
  • 1.59 million Scholarships for University Students for 4 Yearsor
  • 2.27 million Students Receiving Pell Grants of $5,815 for 4 Yearsor
  • 22.29 million Children Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for 1 Yearor
  • 14.85 million Adults Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for 1 Yearor
  • 36.77 million Households with Solar Electricity for 1 Year

Diverted military spending could also provide a significant increase to individual programs, many of which Trump has vowed to fund. The president has proposed massive spending on infrastructure, so it's worth noting: the military spending increase he's calling for could fund 950,000 year-long infrastructure jobs.

Trump has also pledged to improve care for veterans; his military spending increase could fund five years of care for one million veterans, according to the NPP.

Military Spending Chart

There are also ways the money could be spent in areas Trump has already vowed to cut. "This money could provide ACA subsidies for 12 million people," Koshgarian told ATTN:. This could more than double the number of people who already receive them. "It would allow us to resettle 32 times as many refugees as we did in 2016. Or, it would allow us to send more than three times as much federal aid to public schools under Title I," she said, referring to the law that authorizes assistance to low-income schools.

White House officials indicated much of the increase would be paid for by drastically cutting foreign aid. But the entire U.S. foreign aid budget is only $42.4 billion, and over half of it goes toward providing security, military equipment, and training for allies — spending that isn't likely to be cut.

The Trump budget hasn't been finalized and, like any president's proposal, will be scrutinized and altered by members of Congress.