A popular myth is “Defense is over half of the Federal budget”, yet few ever cite a source for their data. Even without a source for verification, this myth continues to persist, and it’s popularity among the uber-left continues to grow. But in an article comparing spending in 1956 and 2006 a few facts jump out: In 1956 defense spending was 60%, while entitlements were 22%. In 2006 defense spending shrunk to 20%, while entitlements grew to 60%.
In fiscal 2006, the federal government spent almost $2.7 trillion. Social Security ($544 billion), Medicare ($374 billion) and Medicaid ($181 billion) dominated. There was $199 billion more for payments to the poor, including the earned income-tax credit and food stamps, among others.
Over the last decades, defense spending is down as a part of the whole Federal budget, yet the myth continues. However, it’s easy to get details the article doesn’t provide as you receive an updated spending report every year — just look in your 1040 tax instructions (page 83 for the 2006 tax year, if you don’t have them, go to irs.gov and grab the PDF for form 1040 instructions). Look for the pie chart titled “Outlays for Fiscal Year 2005” to yield the following fiscal facts regarding spending.
|Social security, Medicare, and other retirement||37%|
|Physical, human, and community development||10%|
|National defense,veterans, and foreign affairs||24%|
Social spending is 67%, defense is 24%, and the other 9% is interest on debt and general government. How then does this myth continue? Perhaps because politicians themselves continue to repeat it, and very few in the media or elsewhere challenge its truth. Yet it’s simple to verify the facts, as the data is as readily available as your tax instructions.
It can be argued defense spending is too high or too low, but if we’re going to have that discussion, we should at least get the facts straight. And the fact is defense spending is not near half of the budget — the majority of spending is on social spending and entitlements, not defense.