This post is on military spending, with a few graphs thrown in. It shouldn’t produce many surprises to anyone who has been paying attention…
Here’s what defense spending as a share of the Federal Budget looks like since 1940, the first year for which OMB table 3.1 has data.
And here’s defense spending as a percentage of GDP.
WW2, the post-War demobilization, and the Korean War are easy to spot. There’s also an uptick there for Vietnam. There are a few ups here and there, but mostly military spending has drifted downward as a share of the budget and a percentage of GDP.
Here’s the same information, color coded by President, and going back to Ike:
A summary of the annualized percentage changes by Presidential administration in defense spending as a share of the budget and as a percentage of GDP:
Only GW and Reagan increased spending on the military as a share of the budget, with GW almost doubling Reagan. GW’s increase is more than double Reagan’s as a percentage of GDP. The moral of the story – run two wars extremely badly, and its going to cost. Interestingly, as a share of GDP, both JFK/LBJ and Carter also increased spending on defense relative to the size of the economy, but by very small amounts. The biggest drops in spending came under Nixon/Ford, and who followed depended on one’s measure. But… Ike, that pacifist weenie, also cut spending by quite a bit.