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No Matter How Many Billions Get Added To The Pentagon Budget, It's Never Enough

-drawing by Nancy Ohanian

It couldn't have surprised anyone that on Monday the the Wall Street Journal was demanding that the U.S. radically increase the Pentagon budget. It's their thing. "The world has changed and American policy must change with it," wrote war-monger Walter Mead. He warned about Russia and China cozying up with each other. What he didn't mention is that the U.S. military budget is about twice what it should be.

I haven't asked them all, but I imagine California Assemblywoman and congressional candidate Cristina Garcia could have been speaking for all the Blue America-endorsed candidates this morning when she read the Roll Call piece about the exploding war budget and sent me a not that reads "Budgets are a reflection of our values and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we can't continue to do business as usual if we are truly committed to rooting out injustices that have been normalized with our policies over time. If we are truly committed to uplifting working families, we would cut the Pentagon's budget and redirect those dollars towards child care, education, job training, healthcare, raising wages, fighting climate change, cleaning up toxics in our air, water and soil. The question is simple, do we value millions of Americans struggling to survive in spite of a hard day's work, or do we value the special interest and their profits?"

Roll Call reported that "Defense spending appeared set for a larger-than-authorized increase in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 as part of a “framework” appropriators agreed to Wednesday, though the pact’s contents remained a mystery as stakeholders [a polite way of saying scumbag lobbyists who belong in prison along with the members of Congress who accept their bribes and do their bidding] scrambled to figure out what’s in store for a massive omnibus package being written in secret. Speculation was rife on Capitol Hill and K Street that national defense and related programs would see a $30 billion boost above President Joe Biden’s budget request, or $5 billion more than even the fiscal 2022 defense authorization law outlined. Key congressional staff disputed that figure, which would amount to a nearly 6 percent boost for Pentagon and other security accounts compared with fiscal 2021. But Senate Appropriations ranking member Richard Shelby (R-AL) confirmed the final package would contain “more” defense spending than the 5 percent boost over the prior year contemplated in the National Defense Authorization Act.

Steven Holden, a Central New York congressional candidate told me today that "There's constant debate in the Pentagon and public finance circles about what percentage GDP should the Defense Budget be. I have seen firsthand where appropriators will increase the discretionary DoD spending beyond what the President or the Pentagon wants. The DoD budget should never be above 3% GDP at any point. What is bad is that this does not include wartime Supplemental spending which is separate from the baseline bill. What the public often does not realize is that the Federal Government does not get money for wartime spending in a regular bill such as this. We watched establishment politicians and right-wingers push through a Ukraine spending bill with no debate or consideration. Therefore, I support Alan Grayson’s plan to force DoD to have all wartime spending from baseline appropriations instead of from supplementals such as the old “GWOT” or “OCO” bills. They already do this with Overseas Humanitarian Assistance funds."

Jason Call is running for a northwest Washington congressional seat held by a military industrial complex congressman, Rick Larsen, so of course I asked him what he thought about the Roll Call piece. "One of the things that most jumped out at me in this article," he said earlier today, "was the idea of 'budget parity' between defense spending and other kinds of spending. I have to look into the history of this idea, but it seems to me that if we're increasing military budgets on par with other spending budgets just because of some parity concern (in other words, 'hey, that's not fair!') then it's absolutely no wonder that we are entrenched in a quagmire of military spending. In 2018 and 2019 the Pentagon was partially audited, and FAILED both of those audits (as apparently everyone expected). So there were some issue of waste that were identified and addressed here and there, a few million dollars of equipment that someone thought was broken that turned out to not be broken and so on. Which is good. And the internal investigation (yes, not a third party audit, so transparency has to be called into question although with issues of national security I don't know how you get around that) showed no fraud. But the real question is 'do we need all of this spending?' That's the audit that needs to take place. Consider the F-35 Lightning II program, projected to cost $1.7 trillion, that they're going to outfit with nukes, and has tons of operational problems. Do we need to continue this? At what point does the plug on a program get pulled? (Well, if you're Rep Rick Larsen, who I'm challenging in WA-02, NO cuts to military spending should ever take place, as he's voted against cuts over and over.) We've got a problem with militarism in this country, as a national policy. It's reflective of the stranglehold that defense contractors have on Congress, and the stranglehold they have over the consciousness of the American public. We need to be reviewing every program on a need basis. If it's not needed (with a high standard set for need) it needs to be cut loose. Setting the stage to add another $35 billion to defense spending is unacceptable."

Colorado progressive Neal Walia is running for Congress in the Denver district. It's a very progressive district and there's not a lot of saber-rattling there. "Time and again," he told me, "politicians have led the American public to believe that our nation doesn't have the resources or spending capabilities to finance large-scale transformational policies like the Green New Deal or Medicare for All. However, they seemingly have no problem with voting to finance multi trillion dollar defense budgets that do little to nothing to make our country safer, but do everything to make a predatory military industrial complex even richer than it already is, promote imperialism, and destroy our environment. Climate change, homelessness, and healthcare are national emergencies that demand our attention and leadership. It's been long overdue for our nation to stop overfunding our defense budget and reallocate those dollars to programs and initiatives designed to create a green economy, put our unhoused neighbors into homes, and create a universal healthcare system that doesn't actively bankrupt our communities."

Brittany DeBarros, a progressive army veteran, is running in the new Staten Island-Brooklyn district-- new and newly blue. This evening she told me that "We should not have to beg for table scraps while politicians continue to funnel money into the hands of their corporate friends and the so-called 'wealthy elite' who profit from death. We need to define safety and security on our terms, the terms of everyday, working-class people whose health and safety are at risk from being exposed to systems of injustice for far too long. In NY11-- and across the country-- we face a climate crisis, a housing crisis, and a healthcare crisis. It's clear we don't need to invest in Lockheed Martin and Raytheon; we need to invest in us."

Please consider what Cristina, Steve, Brittany, Jason and Neal had to say about this. Is it important to you? Do their opinions jive with your own. Would you consider chipping in-- even a small amount-- to help their campaigns? If so they're all on this page and would all appreciate a little help. Unlike their opponents, none of them take corporate PAC money.

1 Comment

Feb 12, 2022

As the rest of the world realizes just how fucking stupid americans are and as our federal debt, warmongering and unbroken series of military cluster fucks add up and wither our economic and military hegemony, it will cost us/US more and more to keep the threats to the world's anticapitalist regimes big enough to keep them paying attention.

but the first law of massive militaries is: if you have one... you will use it.

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