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Trump isn't the first to ask NATO to pay more
01:39 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

President Trump’s insult tour through the NATO summit peaked (so far) Wednesday with his suggestion that not only should member countries meet their obligation to spend 2% of their gross domestic products on defense spending, they should actually double it to 4%.

His reasoning was that the US spends 4.2% of its GDP on defense in “actual numbers,” so the other member countries should pony up.

“On top of that, Germany is just paying a little bit over 1%, whereas the United States, in actual numbers, is paying 4.2% of a much larger GDP,” Trump said during a breakfast with the NATO chief, Jens Stoltenberg. “So I think that’s inappropriate also. You know, we’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France. We’re protecting everybody. And yet we’re paying a lot of money to protect.”

He’s right that the US is paying more than anyone else, but his 4.2% figure makes less sense.

According to NATO’s official figures, the US spends only 3.5% of its GDP on defense. That’s still a whole lot of money – nearly twice the amount spent on defense by other NATO countries combined. The US spent $623 billion and other NATO countries spent $312 billion, for a total of a little less than a trillion dollars spent on defense by treaty members.

As Trump notes, the US has the largest GDP in the organization (and the world) by far – $19.39 trillion in 2017, according to the World Bank. NATO determines the US GDP at $17.79 trillion in 2017 for the purposes of its calculations.

So doing a little back-of-the-envelope math, in order for the US to meet Trump’s new suggested 4% threshold according to NATO, the US would have to shake an extra 0.5% of its GDP – $88.95 billion – loose from the nation’s couch cushions.

Trump requested