Posted by CODEPINK Staff
by Lisa Savage and Janet Weil
How broke does the U.S. have to be to reduce military spending?
The omnibus military spending bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) rolled out of the House Armed Services Committee pulling a trailer load of amendments. In the same week as news broke of school closings in Chicago and Philadelphia for lack of funding, only two members of the committee, California representatives Jackie Speier and John Garamendi, had the presence of mind to vote “no” on $637.5 billion more for drones, nukes, and missile “defense” in FY2014.
The NDAA speeds through a House of Representatives packed with liberals and conservatives who take massive campaign contributions from military contracting firms. Democrats take their lead from President Obama, who proposed the $1.15 trillion annual budget that includes a whopping 56.5% military share of the discretionary spending pie.
Source: National Priorities Project
Despite sequestration and claims that the U.S. is too broke to adequately fund food stamps, Head Start, or "Meals-on-wheels" for the elderly, the NDAA contains $85.8 billion for the war in Afghanistan plus another $7.7 billion for the Afghan Security Forces. These funding levels are $52.2 billion over what sequestration would supposedly require -- an additional $1 billion a week.
The House Armed Services Committee also passed a "Sense of Congress" endorsement of a continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after 2014 as well as ongoing funding for the Afghan Security forces. Thus the U.S. “withdraws” from Afghanistan.
Why does Congress keep voting for military spending when the U.S. is supposedly so broke?
It is as if they have never seen the study by economists at the University of Massachusetts, “The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending,” demonstrating that investing in any other sector produces more jobs than putting money into the military. Funding education, manufacturing energy efficient home components or light rail, even just giving taxpayers cash rebates, generate up to twice as many full-time, full-benefit jobs as building weapons does.
As military spending has continued to gobble up more than half the federal spending pie every year of the Obama administration, economic conditions have continued to deteriorate for the majority of people in the U.S. According to the U.S Census, 13 percent of people in the U.S. now live in poverty. Children fare even worse: 1 in 6 live below the federal poverty line. Job growth following the financial crisis of 2008 occurred almost entirely in sectors where workers do not make a living wage, and economic migration to the U.S. has slowed. Entire generations are struggling with historically high levels of debt for education.
How broke do we have to be before Congress really reduces military spending? It's past time to bring our war dollars home and put them to work meeting people's needs.
Austerity is no basis for true security.