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Happy (War) Tax Day!

April 17, 2012

It’s war tax day, so it’s good to know that (based on federal discretionary spending) just under 57% of your tax dollars will go to the military this year (this doesn’t include billions for nuclear weapons in the DOE budget, part of their $17 billion in “atomic energy/defense” budget).

You might wonder how this military spending spree is still possible, after all the talk about Pentagon budget cuts. In fact, the so-called budget cuts are not cuts at all- they’re minor reductions in the prior planned 18% increase in the ten-year projected Pentagon budget. The Obama plan calls for no cuts in nuclear forces, no major weapons systems cuts, no decrease in the size of the aircraft carrier fleet.

But this still doesn’t placate some politicians, especially those closest to military contractors whose massive profits rely on this bloated budget. Representative Buck McKeon (not to be confused with General Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove), chair of the House Armed Services Committee and recipient of more defense company dollars than other House member, called the Obama budget proposal a “retreat from the world.”

Some retreat. In January, Obama boasted that U.S. military spending will remain “larger than roughly the next 10 nations combined,” although he was being modest: military analysts calculate U.S. military spending at more than the next 17 or 18 nations combined.

So, what do you get for $614 billion in military spending? How about the F-35 “stealth” fighter plane. Already the most expensive weapons system ever, the price tag of the unproven aircraft doubled last fall when maker Lockheed Martin announced “cost overruns” of more than $770 million. Given that the U.S. plan will ultimately waste $1 trillion on the jet program, which cheated on a recent capability test and suffers from more than a dozen serious safety flaws, an overrun of close to a billion dollars is likely to be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Lockheed’s fleecing of taxpayers.

The F-35 is hardly alone. An audit last year found that overruns due to Pentagon mismanagement cost $70 billion over the last two years .

But defense spending creates jobs, right? Not so much. In a recent analysis, University of Massachusetts researchers found that military spending is weakest job creator, compared with spending on clean energy, healthcare, education, or even tax breaks. But there is one place that military spending is creating jobs: prisons. Military contractors including Lockheed, Raytheon, McDonnell Douglas/Boeing, General Dynamics and others have all used prison labor to build parts of Patriot Missiles, Cobra helicopters, F-15 fighter planes and other weapons.

If you’re unhappy about any of this, remember, it could be worse. Mitt Romney’s proposed military budget would result in about a 30% increase in the ten year Pentagon budget.

For more information and resources, check out the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee.

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