It is very well known across the US how much we spend on the military. Most do not know the exact amount, but know it is an incredible amount. Currently, the U.S. spends about 604.5 billion dollars annually on defense, about 16% of the total federal budget. That is a lot of money, especially considering the money is spent on a peacetime military. To put that in perspective, the US spends more money on defense than the next 13 biggest spending countries combined, like Russia and China. Recently, President Trump has proposed a 10% ($54bn) increase in defense spending. To put that in perspective, Russia only spends 66 billion dollars a year on defense. Trump has proposed to increase defense spending by a margin almost as great as Russia’s total defense spending.
$54 billion is a lot of money, and it has to come from somewhere. Considering the nation is already in trillions of dollars of debt, and Trump promised to lower that debt, he will need to take that money from other areas of of the federal budget. Now, the federal budget is split up into two types: mandatory and discretionary. Mandatory spending is what the government spends on areas like welfare and debt interest, levels of spending that are set in stone by law, so Trump cannot reallocate money from there. This is bad for him, considering that that is around 70% of our budget. He would have to take from the discretionary budget, most of which is already used on defense. According to Anthony Zurcher, an analyst for BBC news, he may take this money mostly from the EPA and the State Department, which provides international aid.
President Trump has also called for the US to increase its nuclear stockpile. According to Our World in Data (OWID), a website run by the University of Oxford, since 1986 the global nuclear stockpile has decreased by an incredible amount. Their statistics state that although some countries like India, Pakistan, and North Korea have acquired nuclear capabilities since then, the global nuclear stockpile has decreased from ~64,000 weapons in 1986 to ~10,000 weapons in 2014 and dropping. This has been due to efforts after the fall of the Soviet Union to reduce the nuclear stockpile through treaties, and so far it has been going well. One such treaty, the New Start Treaty signed by President Obama, will require Russia and the US to reduce their nuclear stockpiles to equal levels by next February. This treaty would mean nothing if Trump starts bolstering our arsenal now.
What it seems like is that President Trump looks to start another Cold war. Increasing military spending by an incredible amount and planning to bolster the America’s nuclear arsenal could be seen internationally as a threat. An increase in the nuclear stockpile could mean that other nuclear capable countries would seek to do the same, thus setting us back thirty years in nuclear non-proliferation. Also, such a radical increase in defense spending would decrease funding to several other places, as $54 billion is greater than the budgets of most other discretionary parts of the budget. Cutting funding to the EPA will set us back in environmental protection, which is essential in the age of global warming. Cutting international aid for military spending will hurt our reputation in the countries that receive that money and most likely globally. Overall, an increase of military spending to wartime levels and an increase of the nuclear arsenal is, if anything, a big step back for the US.