Obama State of the Union 2016
President Barack Obama delivers his final State of the Union Address in front of Congress on Capitol Hill, Jan 12, 2016.

Embarking on his last year in office, President Obama delivered his final State of the Union Address this past Tuesday with an emotional speech that he used to spotlight important events on his agenda.

Obama’s range of topics included the accomplishments that his Administration had fulfilled and his thoughts and goals for the future. He also included a more touching message about the state of affairs in the political sphere today. He discussed prevalent events such as climate change, war and terror, money in politics and a myriad of other important issues. However, there is one important statistic that stood out.

A number of critics in both the media and in Congress have recently come forward suggesting that the US has become one of the weakest nations from the perspective of military might on a national stage. Obama addressed these concerns wholeheartedly in his speech.

With confidence Obama said:

“Let me tell you something: The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. Period. It’s not even close. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined.”

At first, this statistic may seem mind-blowing but then you also need to remember the size of the United States and the scale of the US Military. Politifact did some fact checking to see if Obama’s figures were close to correct.

It turns out that Obama is actually pretty close to being on the money. Depending on which statistics you look at, the US spends more than either the next seven nations or the next eight nations combined. The problem in tracking the exact amount is in the way that “military spending” can be categorized. Different surveys/analysts may categorize them differently because there is no common definition of what is considered military spending.

If you’d like to take a look for yourself, then here. The sources are Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) which is based in Sweden and the International Institute for Strategic Strategies (IISS) which is based in London. Both are independent think-tanks whose goals are to accurately track military spending.

Total Federal Spending including Military Spending for 2014 under the Obama Administration.
Total Federal Spending including Military Spending for 2014 under the Obama Administration.

According to nationalpriorities.org, US military spending was about $610 billion for 2014. The total expenditure for 2014 for Education was about $100 billion and for Healthcare it was about $66 billion.

It should be an issue when the military budget trumps education and health by such a large amount. The only two categories that military spending does not out-rank are for medicare and social security.

The Bottom Line: If the United States is indeed spending more than the next seven or eight nations combined, then ultimately that means Obama didn’t lie or exaggerate the truth during his State of The Union Address.

One Comment

  1. I think what was more interesting about that statistic was that it was said in a boastful way to appease his republican critics, and a few days later it was MLK day… MLK’s thoughts on the subject…. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”