Or perhaps we have forgotten just how deeply it is embedded in our economy
The Budget doesn't tell the whole story running at a mere $700 billion a year or so.
If you add on interest, veteran's affairs, pensions, NASA, homeland security etc etc you begin to approach the $1 to 1.4 trillion a year mark or getting close to 10% to 14% of current US GDP.
This can also be looked at as representing 28% of all tax revenue being spent on "defense"..
Here is an open source link the multitude of companies that have had military based contracts and links to the contracts themselves since 2006
Many of these companies have diversified with funds from this business to become truly global corporations you can regard some of these cash injections as seed money.
We now have fully legalized mercenary corps with a truly global reach
Direct arms exports represent around $19 billion.
Of course every time we get involved in a conflict the President at that time can turn around and ask for money over and above what is budgeted.
Of course like previous empires our military is spread around, in our case globally with over a thousand bases in 63 different countries.
Whilst there is no CEO with scrambled egg on the company logo ruling the Empire it is difficult to say their influence is marginal at best. The influence runs deep and it is an essential part of our economy by design. War is profitable business especially when you suffer no infrastructure damage in return, one of our corporations can also fill in by repairing war damage abroad, at a profit of course.
Do we need this war industry, why of course we do because for decades we have deliberately made it one of the essential industries in our nation.
To say this colossal industry has little or no say in how business is done, and that includes US policy seems a trifle far fetched to me. Just look at the screams of paranoid fear in congress if you even hint at cutting the expenditure, cut everything else by all means.
Perhaps we don't notice just how influential this business sector is simply because we have gotten so used to its presence?
Some of course will object to me referring to the US as an Empire, but with its over bloated military, global corporations and recent military escapades I'm not sure what else you could label it. The British and Roman Empires functioned along similar lines, but in those days conquering was more of a bloody business, but still money was used to buy loyalty even then. We even give countries money so that they can by our hardware to the tune of about $100 million a year, pennies in the grand scheme of things...no?
There is no point in quoting Eisenhower as it is so out of date as to be incredulous what we have now is an entrenched military industrial complex without which we would be economically exposed. I cannot now see its influence ending in the current economic reality. Apparently there is a reason why we spend twice as much as everyone else combined, I'm still working on trying to find one...other than....