US Over-Investment in the Pentagon Left Us Vulnerable to the Coronavirus

June 15, 2020 - Download PDF Version

Despite over 100,000 U.S. deaths and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Congress has yet to fully fund a response to the health and economic crises spurred by COVID-19.

It’s not for lack of resources.

This year's entire budget for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) amounts to $7.7 billion — while the U.S. military budget was allocated a whopping $738 billion for 2020.

Congress allocates hundreds of billions of dollars to the Pentagon and militarized policing and immigration systems in the name of security, while underinvesting in priorities like health care, medical research and poverty programs that could keep us safe during this crisis. Here's how that spending disparity is playing out.

COVID-19 Testing

What We Needed: A full COVID testing program could cost $50 billion to $300 billion over two years – or, $25 billion to $150 billion per year.

What We Got: $25 billion per year is about 3%, or 12 days, of the Pentagon’s annual budget, while $150 billion per year is less than the U.S. spent each year on war at the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. 

Personal Protective Equipment

What We Needed: Experts called for a stockpile of 3.5 billion masks for a pandemic. (The feds have distributed only 11.7 million, less than 1% of what’s needed.) At a cost of $0.64 - $3.40 per mask with a five-year shelf life, that’s $448 million to $2.38 billion each year to maintain the stockpile.

What We Got: $826 million in FY 2020 for six presidential helicopters in 2020; $4.2 billion in military contracts in Afghanistan in 2019

COVID-19 Vaccine

What We Needed: At least $3 billion is needed for the initial creation and manufacture of adequate quantities of vaccine.

What We Got: $4.9 billion in military aid to Afghanistan in 2018

Medical Care

What We Needed: The average cost to care for a hospitalized COVID-19 patient is $30,000. 

What We Got: $60,000 per hour for every flyover by the Blue Angels.

Food Security

What We Needed: One in five American children are going hungry, three times more than during the Great Recession. The Heroes Act includes $14 billion in food aid.

What We Got: Trump’s Space Force at $15 billion for the first year

Income Security

What We Needed: Forty million people are unemployed in the United States. Continuing $600 monthly payments for a year for all of them would cost $288 billion. 

What We Got: $389 billion for Pentagon contractors in 2019


Download the PDF fact sheet here.