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Trump Throws More Money at the Pentagon

President Trump and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. (DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

In a decision that should surprise absolutely no one, the president agreed to an increase to the already exorbitant military budget:

President Donald Trump has told Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to submit a $750 billion budget proposal for fiscal 2020, in a reversal from his pledge to trim defense spending, two people familiar with the budget negotiations have told POLITICO.

Trump’s “pledge to trim defense spending” was nothing of the sort, and anyone that thought that he would actually cut back on military spending has not been paying attention for the past several years. Even before he was elected, Trump has been fixated on the idea that the military was supposedly “depleted” under Obama, and he has been determined to undo the non-existent harm that he thinks his predecessor did. Of course, the military was not really depleted, but hawks always like to claim that they need to spend vast sums to “rebuild” what their predecessors allowed to fall into desuetude.

Persuading Trump to throw more money at the Pentagon must have been the easiest assignment in Mattis’ life, because the president has been inclined to give the military as much money as he can whether it is necessary or not. The military budget is already far too large by at least several hundreds of billions of dollars, and a further increase is an absurd waste of money. Since Trump knows nothing, and his instinct is to favor a larger military over a smaller one, it could not have been difficult to convince him that more money was the answer. Now that there will be a Democratic majority in the House, it is possible that Congress won’t simply act as a rubber stamp for unnecessary increases in military spending, but they will need help from those Republican members that understand that the U.S. doesn’t need to be spending three-quarters of a trillion dollars a year in order to be secure.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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