Tillerson: State Department Won’t Need Much Money After Trump Solves World Problems

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a major speech today. Laura Rozen reports:

As a joke, this might not have been bad. But it wasn’t a joke:

Tillerson said the department’s budget in recent years had ballooned to some $55 billion and was filled with spending inefficiencies. He also said the State Department would need less money as global conflicts wind down. Although it’s not the first time Tillerson has made such a claim, critics note that he’s given no specifics about which conflicts he sees petering out. They warn that new conflicts could easily emerge from North Korea to Iran.

As for the budget ballooning to $55 billion, the bulk of that is humanitarian and military assistance, which is a whole different subject. For the State Department’s core duties, their budget looks like this:

Does Tillerson have a point? State Department outlays did increase substantially after 9/11, roughly doubling from $8 billion in the final Clinton budget to $15 billion in the final Bush budget. Was that too much? Should it be cut back now that our wars in the Middle East are kinda sorta winding down? Maybe. I’d sure like to hear someone actually make the case, though, rather than just tossing out a phony number and pretending that it’s justification enough.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend