Pentagon Should Pay Fair Share of Cuts
By Jim Cason on 07/12/2012 @ 12:40 PM
Talking with congressional offices and listening to the responses our constituents receive from their visits with members of Congress, I get the sense that some members of Congress want the Pentagon to pay its fair share of any effort to cut the Pentagon budget -- but they aren't hearing that message enough from their constituents.
"Look, I would like our office to hear more from constituents who want to cut the Pentagon budget," one Senate staffer told me on a recent visit. "But we mostly hear from people concerned about any reduction in Pentagon spending." And recently Senator Patty Murray, who will play a key role in any decisions on spending, made a similar point.
This month, a well known and powerful representative made a similiar point. In a meeting that included FCNL grassroots lobbyists, that representative said he understands that if the Pentagon budget is not cut, there will have to be far more drastic cuts in domestic spending. But, the representative lamented, he is getting a lot more pressure from military contractors and the Pentagon than he is getting from FCNL constituents and others who say the military budget must be cut.
A New Message Every Week
Your messages are working. Now we need to expand the effort to make sure that members of Congress hear every week from additional people who think the Pentagon should pay its fair share of efforts to reduce the deficit. Behind the scenes, members of Congress and their staff are already talking about efforts to roll back cuts in Pentagon spending.
You can make a difference. Let members of Congress know you support a leaner Pentagon budget. After you've let them know, help us find five other people who can also contact their members of Congress
Pentagon Contractors Are Lobbying
As our Executive Secretary Diane Randall pointed out recently, we're not the only ones lobbying. This week a coalition of Pentagon contractors rolled out a new lobbying campaign that argues the Pentagon budget cannot be cut any deeper than the current proposals to cut close to $500 billion over ten years (never mind that the other parts of the budget will be cut by more than twice that).
The good news is that the contractors have begin to realize that direct lobbying and campaign contributions are not enough. They've created a new campaign that encourages individuals to send email messages to Congress. They know that they need the support of grassroots activists to keep their profits intact. The bad news? The campaign is well-financed and will include videos and advertising in an effort to scare people in this country into believing that cutting $1 trillion from the Pentagon budget over the next ten years will leave soldiers without ammunition and country vulnerable to violent attacks.
But as the Sustainable Defense Task Force and the bi-partisan Simpson-Bowles Commission have pointed out, there are responsible ways to reduce the Pentagon budget by $1 trillion. Even with this level of cuts, the core Pentagon budget would still be at the same level in real terms as it was in 2007 -- at the height of the Iraq war.
Working with other groups, we at FCNL need to make sure that every week when members of Congress come into their offices they hear messages arguing that the Pentagon must pay its fair share of any effort to cut the federal budget deficit.
Yes, workers for Pentagon contractors could lose some jobs. And yes, Pentagon contractors might see some of their spectacular profits cut. But as our colleagues William Hartung and Stephen Miles pointed out, dire predictions of job losses are greatly exaggerated. And what about the 650,000 state and local government workers that have already lost their jobs -- not to mention the hundreds of thousands of additional workers that will lose their jobs if the cuts in domestic spending go forward. Do you know people who work in local government? Would you be willing to engage them in this lobbying work to cut the Pentagon budget?
A cut in Pentagon profits is a small price to pay in order to guarantee needed spending to repair our broken bridges and other infrastructure, to make sure that families living in poverty have enough food to eat at the end of the month, and to provide children with health care.
All of us in the FCNL network can be a part of this effort to ensure that Senate offices in particular are hearing from their constituents about the Pentagon paying its fair share of any effort to cut the Pentagon budget. We at FCNL hope you will lobby now at home, sign up to our new special email list focused on cutting the Pentagon budget, and then come to Washington for our Quaker Public Policy Institute and Lobby Day. Hope to see you then!