A Trillion Here, a Trillion There

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The F-35 fighter flying somewhere in the stratosphere, along with its operating costs / Lockheed

When I started covering the military shortly after the War of 1812, million was a word you heard a lot. Then, once Cap the Knife (for his budget-cutting prowess during his Nixon Administration tenure running the Office of Management and Budget) became Cap the Ladle Weinberger when he ran the Reagan Pentagon, billion became the big number of choice. In recent months – something I thought we’d never see – trillion is cropping up more and more. That’s 1,000 billions. There are proposals floating around Washington to cut the next decade’s $7 trillion in military spending by $1 trillion. And crackerjack reporter Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg News has just found a Pentagon report that says the cost of operating the military’s F-35 fighter over its lifespan may top $1 trillion. That doesn’t include, of course, the $382 billion cost of developing and buying the plane, which is just getting underway. Floor mats, extra.