After maintaining a suspiciously long Twitter silence this morning, Donald Trump finally posted to the social media platform this afternoon to brag about one of the few victories he’s enjoyed in recent days despite his impeachment by the House of Representatives.
In yet another sign that today’s Republican party has traveled far afield from the policies of the last senior military official to hold the office of president as part of the GOP, Dwight Eisenhower — who famously warned in his farewell address of the dangers of the then-expanding influence of the military-industrial complex — Trump celebrated the signing of the largest defense appropriations bill in our nation’s history.
Last night I was so proud to have signed the largest Defense Bill ever. The very vital Space Force was created. New planes, ships, missiles, rockets and equipment of every kind, and all made right here in the USA. Additionally, we got Border Wall (being built) funding. Nice!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 21, 2019
While the $738 billion defense appropriation is, in inflation-adjusted terms, not quite as large as it was during World War II and at the height of the Iraq war, it represents the fifth consecutive year of increase in the military budget and tracks beyond the level of inflation to deliver a real increase in spending on the military.
While the president boasts of his shiny new toy, the Space Force, and the inclusion of funding for his border wall, the reality is that Trump did not get the $750 billion he asked for in his budget request.
Additionally, he had to give up the reductions in non-military domestic spending that he requested and faced restrictions on the Space Force that required it use already existing service members to fill its ranks rather than increasing the number of American forces to staff the new branch of the Armed Forces.
The fact that the Defense budget passed so easily with so much of what Donald Trump wanted to see included, demonstrates the continued power of corporate money in politics as numerous Democratic legislators voted for an annual appropriations bill that continued to fund the U.S. military at levels that far exceed that of the next 10 largest-spending nations combined.
The failure to prioritize health care, infrastructure, and social services in our national budgetary policy may be seen by some Democratic apologists as an exercise of pragmatic realpolitik to compromise with a GOP-controlled Senate and the threat of a presidential veto, however, until the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision is overturned by a constitutional amendment, the power of defense contractors to influence our nation’s priorities will continue to funnel our tax dollars into weapons of war rather than to programs that will address the more urgent needs of our citizens.
If the latest military budget is something that Donald Trump can crow about on Twitter, you can be sure that it can’t be beneficial for the ordinary American.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.