In just the last few months, Congress has appropriated nearly three trillion dollars to fight the economic and public health impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is on top of a terrible budget deal last year that blew through spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act. With little end in sight to the pandemic and its associated recession, Congress is likely to spend even more in the months to come.
With resources more limited than ever, areas of the budget that were off-limits for years should now be more closely scrutinized. At the top of that list should be the single largest part of the federal discretionary budget, an entire category of spending that has long been off the table: the Pentagon.
For years, Congress overinvested in the Pentagon in an attempt to prevent potential attacks on our shores, while failing to prepare for other existential risks that would threaten our prosperity and way of life. Now, Congress appears ready to authorize three-quarters of a trillion dollars for defense spending alone in the upcoming fiscal year. Nearly one of every 10 of those dollars will go to an Overseas Contingency Operations account that lawmakers in both parties acknowledge is a slush fund. This is on top of a base budget that will almost certainly be higher than ever.
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