New York (CNNMoney.com) - It was once sacrosanct. But no more.
A growing chorus of politicians and citizens is calling for defense spending to be scrutinized as much as any other federal program when it comes time to tighten the nation's fiscal belt.
The United States spends more on defense than any other country, and about five times more than China, which ranks second on the list.
Defense spending is a big ticket in Washington. At $689 billion this year, it accounts for about 20% of the entire federal budget. And it makes up 50% of the so-called discretionary budget, which pays for everything but entitlement programs and interest on the debt. In other words, all federal funding for education, infrastructure, transportation, the arts, and scientific research, to name a few.