The Real Figure for Military Spending by the US is 66.3% of the Discretionary Federal Budget
Economist Dean Baker, in an article published at NationofChange, complains that the New York Times never explains the federal budget in a way that Americans can comprehend, because it publishes big numbers, like the $17.3 billion budgeted to be spent on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the $40 billion budgeted to be spent on foreign aid this year, but never notes that neither of those "big" numbers amounts to even 1% of the 2017 federal budget. His critique is correct as far as it goes, but like all too many liberal analysts, Baker studiously fails to note a few really BIG numbers in the budget that also don't get mentioned by the Times and the rest of the corporate media, either as a number or as a percentage.
This is a big failing of the liberal left: not calling out the Hannibal's war elephant in the room.
Military spending, even when it does get reported, is often only referred to in terms of the increase being proposed, without the total budget outlay ever being provided. It is reported (including in the Times!) wrong in so many ways. For example, while the actual Pentagon budget outlay is sometimes mentioned, the amount of the interest on the debt that is for prior military spending that was financed through borrowing is not included. Nor is the spending on veterans' health care, which is surely part of military spending. Nor is the share of the Energy Department budget that is for nuclear weapons included. According to the National Priorities Project, the 2015 budget for the military was $598 billion, which represented 54% of all federal discretionary spending. That number didn't include over $100 billion in veterans spending and $26 billion for nuclear weapons, bringing the total to about $730 billion. 2015 total discretionary spending was $1.1 trillion,so including nuke spending and veterans spending, spending on the military represented 63% of the total. In other words two-thirds of your tax bill!
Discretionary spending is spending that Congress can cut, and that is funded through borrowing or through income tax and other federal tax collections. Other spending, called mandatory or non-discretionary, is primarily for Medicare and Social Security, iand s non-discretionary, as it is mandated and has been funded through separate tax collections -- the FICA tax and the Medicare tax, or committed by law as a first priority, like debt repayment. Interest payments on US debt in 2015 was about $440 billion, about a quarter of that, ,or $110 billion, according to the Straus Military Reform Project, being for interest on borrowing to fund wars and the military (this group's site also has figures for US military spending in the current year FY2016 and the proposed budget for FY2017).