Ron Paul Says U.S. Spends $1 Trillion on Foreign Policy
Recently by Ron Paul: The War That's Not a War
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele sparked a political frenzy recently when he alleged that President Obama is responsible for the war in Afghanistan and questioned the prospects of a U.S. victory in the region.
"Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama's choosing. This was not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in, but it was the president who was trying to be cute by half by building a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should be in Afghanistan. Well, if he is such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that's the one thing you don't do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan?" said Steele.
The comments prompted several calls for Steele's resignation among Republicans and conservative pundits.
Steele does, however, have at least one defender: Ron Paul, an outspoken Republican representative from Texas and a former presidential candidate. Asked about the comments in a July 5, 2010, CNN interview, Paul talked about what he sees as widespread public disapproval of the war, including its detrimental financial impact on the U.S. "We're spending $1 trillion a year on our foreign policy," Paul commented.
That caught our attention, so we decided to look into it.
Paul's office sent us an article written by Robert Higgs, a scholar at The Independent Institute, a libertarian-leaning economic research organization.
Higgs argues that looking at how much money goes to the Department of Defense is insufficient. One also has to include the appropriations for the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons program, the Department of State, the Department of Veterans affairs, and the interest payments attributable to past debt-financed defense spending, among other expenses. Crunching the numbers for 2009, Higgs came up with a total that's slightly over $1 trillion.
We consulted numerous defense budget experts on the issue. They all agreed that it depends largely on how one defines "foreign policy." Changing the definition means changing the programs that one includes in the calculation, which impacts the total amount.
Winslow Wheeler from the Center for Defense Information sent us a table which details the "U.S. security" expenses for 2010. The total comes out to $1021.3 billion, slightly over $1 trillion. The calculation includes the interest on the Department of Defense Retiree Health Care Fund and on debt-financed defense spending.
July 16, 2010
Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.