AOC’s ‘Justice’ Rant Is Wrong: U.S. Spends Nearly Twice as Much on Health Care as on Defense

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez has taken to Instagram live to explain why she believes the Derek Chauvin conviction was “not justice.” She started by noting that George Floyd and other black men would still be alive in a just world, and then expanded her commentary on police conduct into a broader complaint about the ills of American society.

I will leave it to others to comment on the rest of her remarks, but as somebody who has spent a fair amount of time studying health care and budget data, this one part jumped out:

Justice is a municipality and a government that does not — because it trickles down right? — that does not value military and armaments more than it values health care, and education, and housing.

The suggestion that we spend more money on the military than all sorts of other national priorities is a popular one on the Left, but it is also completely untrue. And it is egregiously wrong when it comes to health care.

As illustrated in the chart below, the federal government spent $1.45 trillion on health care programs in 2020, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s nearly double the $757 billion that was spent on defense. In fact, Medicare alone costs more than the entire defense budget.

It’s also worth noting that this chart understates the costs of health care spending because it does not include state expenditures on Medicaid, which added an additional $222 billion to the overall cost of the program in 2019.

So does that mean that we’re slightly closer to AOC’s ideal form of “justice?”