How much is the $52 billion “Black Budget,” really?


Expensive, but not overwhelming. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

Yesterday, we learned what's in the Pentagon's $52.6 billion "black budget" for the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Administration, and other super-secret information-gathering outfits. That sounds like a lot of money, but it's actually a pretty small line item in the federal government's $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal year 2013. Here are some points of comparison:

- $52 billion: The amount the Department of Defense will have to cut by January 2014 from its $498-billion budget if its next sequestration deadline is not averted.

- $12.6 billion: What the F-35 joint strike fighter program is expected to cost each year, on average, through 2037.

- $44.9 billion: Exxon Mobil's 2012 profits.

- $37.7 billion: India's 2013 defense budget.

- $50.96 billion: The total gross domestic product for Rhode Island in 2012.

- $74.6 billion: The amount the U.S. spent on food stamps in 2012.

- $42.1 billion: Tax revenue collected in New York City in 2012.

- $49.3 billion: The cost of the Iraq war in 2011.

- $67 billion: Bill Gates' net worth.

- $3.07 billion: U.S. aid to Israel in 2012.

- $14.87 billion: Farm subsidies paid in 2012.

- $25.4 billion: What California will spend on higher education in 2012-2013.

- $248.3 billion: Projection for federal Medicaid spending in 2012.

Lydia DePillis is a reporter focusing on labor, business, and housing. She previously worked at The New Republic and the Washington City Paper. She's from Seattle.
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Lydia DePillis · August 30, 2013