John Stossel reveals himself as an opponent of a strong defense

Oh boy. John Stossel, the popular TV anchor/columnist has revealed himself as an opponent of a strong defense.

An avowed libertarian who would like to see the federal government abolished, he has recently written a column full of glaring factual errors, which the mag of course published. (Apparently, Pat Buchanan is on vacation.)

The column’s URL is

Stossel has falsely claimed that “during 6 of the 8 years of Bush’s tenure, his party controlled the Congress”. Actually, the GOP controlled the Congress only from January to summer 2001, and from 2003 to 2007. During the summer of 2001, Jim Jeffords jumped into the Democrats’ arms, and consequently, the Senate jumped into the Dems’ hands.

Stossel has also falsely claimed that the SS program and the Medicare program combined, plus the military budget, are the two biggest items in the federal budget. The SS program is, of course, by far the biggest single item in the federal budget (its FY2010 cost was $696 bn and its proposed FY2011 budget is $730 bn), and together with the Medicare program (whose FY2010 cost was $452 bn), they constitute the biggest item, bar none. That is true.

But Stossel ws wrong to classify the military budget among the two biggest items, because its FY2010 amount was $696 bn (of which only $534 bn was spent on defense), while FY2010 welfare spending (including the FY2010 cost of the Medicaid program, which was $290 bn) was $888 bn. The truth is that the second-largest category in the federal budget after the two biggest entitlement programs is welfare spending.

Also, Stossel complained, “And when was the last time you heard tea partiers complaining about the exploding military budget?”

Hey Johnny, what “exploding military budget” are you talking about? The US doesn’t have such a military budget. The defense budget rose from FY2009 to FY2010 by a few percent in real terms, and the proposed FY2011 defense budget (not yet approved by the Congress) would increase annual defense spending only by 1.8% in real terms, if it is approved by the Congress as proposed by the Executive. And the Senate and House Appropriations Committee have actually recommended budgets several billion bucks smaller than what the Executive has proposed, which means the defense budget will likely not grow at all this fiscal year.

From FY2007 (when the Dems took over the Congress from Republicans) to FY2010, the defense budget grew only slightly, from $475 bn to $534 bn, by about 12.4% in real terms over a 3-year-period.

America’s defense spending is even more meager if measured as a %age of GDP, the most objective measure. During this entire decade, from FY2001 to FY2010, defense spending has always remained below 4% of GDP. The FY2010 defense budget constituted 3.65% of GDP; the proposed FY2011 defense budget. In FY2002-FY2003 it was some 3.3%-3.7% of GDP. During the FY1998-FY2001 period it constituted 3.0% of GDP.

Even if the costs of the Iraqi war and the Afghan war are counted, total military spending STILL constituted only 4.5% of GDP and only 18.5% of the total federal budget in FY2010. The proposed FY2011 federal budget would reduce the military’s share to about 18.0% of the tota federal budget.

The military budget is a small part of total annual federal spending and constitutes a microscopic percentage of GDP. No honest person can claim that the US has an “exploding military budget”. The only people who claim that it does are liars like Stossel and people who don’t know what they’re talking about.


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