The Real Figure for Military Spending by the US is 66.3% of the Discretionary Federal Budget
One of the tricks of the trade, often used by the Times, is to lump non-discretionary spending together with discretionary spending and then to describe military spending as a percentage of the whole, which is grossly misleading. That equation: $3.36 trillion was the figure for total federal outlays in 2015. So by that reckoning, the military spending looks like a more reasonable 21.7% of the total. That could be made a bit more honest by adding the $110 billion in war-related interest payments to the military outlays, which would make it 25% spent on the military, but the Times does none of that, and doesn't include Veterans or Energy Department outlays. The paper typically counts just current Pentagon budgeting which is that $598 billion figure for 2015, and then gives that as a percentage of the total discretionary and mandatory budget of $3.8 trillion, making it look like the military share of that budget was just 16%.
No wonder Americans aren't freaking out about how much of their tax dollar goes to the military. They think it's 16 cents of each dollar, when it's really the percentage of the discretionary budget, which is that 66 cents on the dollar.
Want to know why Americans pay more in taxes than people in the Nordic countries or Europe, with all their fine infrastructure, good schools, national health care systems and one month or even 6-8 weeks of paid vacations? It's because European countries pay at most maybe 5-6% of their taxes for their military forces, and we suckers in the US pay 66.3% for ours.
As tax day rapidly approaches, remember this figure and tell your friends and neighbors about it, and remind them that President Trump is calling for giving the Pentagon another $54 billion in this year’s budget (and by the way, President Obama and Congress raised the military budget by 6% in 2016, and Obama proposed giving the Pentagon another $29 billion for FY2017, so it's not just a Republican or a Trump thing).
Note: One could argue that the US spends even more on war and things military by looking at the whole National Security budget, since virtually all of that is about the so-called "war" on terror, under which the US is defined as part of a global "battle ground." That would mean adding over $40+ billion -- probably closer to $50 billion now -- for the intelligence agencies like the CIA and NSA whose budgets are kept secret, but a few years ago managed to leak out in a Congressional hearing, the budget for the FBI of $9 billion, and the budget for the DEA of $28 billion. That's another $80 billion to add to the total military budget, bringing it to over 67% of total discretionary spending.