Biden’s Budget and the Ever-Increasing Military Spending

Lydia Jensen 

Co-Editorials Editor 

Sean Rayford / Getty Images file

Bidens 2022 Discretionary Budget Proposal, released on April 9th, unveils a lot of changes in the budget that depart from the Trump Era. This contrast can be mostly blamed by party lines, with Biden making more increases as opposed to Trump’s ‘cuts’ of many departments. One part that stays the same throughout both presidents and parties, however, is the ever-increasing military budget. 

The budget proposal is 58 pages long, and includes changes to many of the important departments, but the ones that are increased the most mark an interesting departure from what we began to expect. 

Education is the largest of these funds, with a 41% increase, which is almost more of an increase than the bottom 7 on this infographic from the Washington Post illustrates. 

Liberal democrats were pressuring for a military budget cut of at least 10 percent, while republicans were hoping for a 2-3 percent increase. The Trump Administration had been, “forecast spending $722 billion on defense” (WP). 

Biden’s ultimate decision was to mark the trajectory at 1.6% (11.3 billion dollars) as compared to last year’s budget increase, allowing an increase of the budget, but a small one nonetheless. 

This money, a total of 715 billion dollars, is meant to be put towards a few key points taken directly from the proposal:

  • Deterring China: 
    • Destabilizing Russia, and leveraging power and contracts and allyship to, “counter the threat from China”.
  • Supporting Defense Research and Development: 
    • Allows the researchers to continue having well-paying jobs and, “prioritizes defense research, development, test, and evaluation funding to invest in breakthrough technologies” for the sake of defense and dominance.
  • Optimize Naval Shipbuilding: 
    • Invests in our navy fleet and recapitalizes the “strategic ballistic missile submarine fleet, and invests in remotely operated and autonomous systems and the next generation attack submarine program”.
  • Modernizes the Nuclear Deterrent: 
    • “Maintains a strong, credible nuclear deterrent for the security of the Nation and U.S. allies”. They also plan to review the US Nuclear posture and ensure that these efforts are sustainable.
  • Investing in Long-Range Fire Capabilities: 
    • This request invests in the making and testing of, “hypersonic strike capabilities” and seeks to enhance already existing technology.
  • Promotes Climate Resilience and Energy Efficiencies: 
    • Wants to ensure that, “U.S. military installations, and the mission critical capabilities these installations support, are resilient to climate-induced extreme weather”. Also wants to make efforts for a plan to mitigate the impacts of climate change and improve the resilience of the DOD. 
  • Counters Emerging Biological Threats: 
    • Emerging infectious disease surveillance, biosafety and biosecurity, and research and development into medical countermeasures/
  • Fulfills America’s Commitment to Military Families: 
    • Signals support by prioritizing programs that allow families that have benefited from relation to active duty personnel to have support. 
  • Ensures Readiness: 
    • Makes sure that equipment and training are given and maintained to all facets of the military.
  • Divests Legacy Capacity and Force Structure: 
    • Allows DOD to reinvest savings into different programs and put money that was, “associated with divestitures and other efficiencies to higher priority investments.”

A departure from what would be expected, though, is that the increase to the Veterans Affairs budget is larger in percentage than the budget change for Defense, although still significantly less.

The Biden Administration is planning on using this 8% increase (8.5 billion dollars) for “includes new money for suicide prevention, women’s health, assistance to homeless veterans and research on toxic exposures.” (WP). This shys away from usual stereotypes of Democratic presidents cutting veterans affairs budgets, and marks an interesting change in focus for the Democratic party as a whole. 

This budget spread is not permanent, however, and some would argue unrealistic. When it gets onto the floor of Congress it will be hotly debated by both parties, and will face many fluctuations, but with a Democratic majority in congress, the plan has a chance to end up similar to what was proposed, but based on the fact that many Liberal Democrats wanted to cut the budget, there is a chance that consensus may be difficult. 

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