Lorelei Kelly’s Coverage of the Defense Budget – in Pictures

Kevin Drum calls our attention to a good discussion from Lorelei Kelly:

Last week, both houses of Congress approved the conference report on the Fiscal year 2008 Defense Authorization bill, H.R. 1585. The bill includes $506.9 billion for the Department of Defense and the nuclear weapons activities of the Department of Energy. The bill also authorizes $189.4 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This funding is NOT counted as part of the $506.9 billion … Keep in mind, today’s defense spending is 14% above the height of the Korean War, 33% above the height of the Vietnam War, 25% above the height of the “Reagan Era” buildup and is 76% above the Cold War average

There were two questions in the comment box about this overtime comparison, which I hope our graphs address. Some asked whether her comparisons were bogus comparisons of nominal figures or whether they were comparisons of inflation-adjusted figures. It seems the latter is the case. Others asked how this would look in terms of the spending to GDP ratio. Yep – with real GDP rising over time, the lower real defense spending during the Korean War as compared to today’s higher real defense spending still turns out to be a higher percentage of GDP.

Nonetheless – with defense spending commanding almost 5 percent of GDP, it is hard to imagine how certain GOP candidates could call for even more defense spending and tax cuts at the same time. Check out the CBO blog for more on this query.