2C: the FCNL Staff Blog

Top Ten Reasons Why the Pentagon Should Be Cut by $1 Trillion

By Diane Randall on 11/27/2012 @ 01:00 PM

Tags: Diane, Federal Budget, Pentagon, War is Not the Answer, Lobbying

It was a happy sight on Capitol Hill two weeks ago to see the scores of Quakers and friends concerned about peace and good government lobbying Congress to seize the opportunity right now to cut $1 trillion from the Pentagon budget. While the outlines of deal are under heavy negotiation here in Washington for how to avoid the fiscal cliff, it's clear that increasing revenue will be part of the solution. And it's very likely that some of the cuts to both domestic and defense spending proposed under the Budget Control Act passed by Congress last year that would trigger sequestration on January 2 will stick.

Our case to Congress is this: keep the defense cuts that are part of the Budget Control Act. There is already agreement on cutting the first $500 billion from the Pentagon. Cutting another $500 billion over the next decade won't be catastrophic for the military; indeed, the total of $1 trillion in cuts will curb the unprecedented growth of the Pentagon budget and take our spending back only to 2007 levels.

Here are my top 10 reasons for why cutting $1 trillion in Pentagon spending over 10 years makes sense.

10. The Pentagon has more money than it can spend already. Just this past week a report indicated the Pentagon's account had $105 billion in unspent funds.

9. Military contractors are pushing Congress to spend billions and billions of our tax dollars on weapons systems that don't work, and, in some cases the military doesn't even want.

8. The work of our military has changed over the last 25 years, but we are still investing billions and billions of dollars in weapons systems and operating military bases around the world that have questionable value to our national security.

7. The modest austerity of additional cuts over the next 10 years could create necessary disruption to stimulate businesses benefiting from military contracts to pursue new jobs for the future; i.e. clean energy.

6. Let's face it -- those at the top of the military-industrial complex have the most to lose if Pentagon spending is curtailed. The Pentagon has become top-heavy. More military brass (i.e. generals) require more infrastructure to be in charge of. And billions go to benefit the top 5 military contractors, whose CEOs get paid more than the top 5 CEOs of banks.

5. The military has become sacrosanct, given disproportionate status in our culture and have managed their business in an era of profligacy. While there are brilliant minds, courageous souls and fine people who serve in the military, they are human; the Pentagon should be subject to the same scrutiny we apply to any governmental agency. The fact is, we could better care for veterans who are suffering if we right size other Pentagon expenditures.

4. The Pentagon wastes more money in a year than five federal agencies combined -- an estimated $102 billion in one year.

3. Spending disproportionate amounts of our federal treasure on the Pentagon directs money and imagination from other investments that have a greater return in the future: for example, high quality pre-school, nutrition for poor children and families, no-carbon energy sources and community infrastructure that improves our cities.

2. Excessive Pentagon spending gives the illusion that we have achieved security when the greatest threats to our nation and our world -- such as underdeveloped human capital or climate change -- can't be protected by the billions of dollars we funnel to the Pentagon every year. The costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have not made us a stronger or safer nation.

1. Spending only 2 cents of every dollar on diplomacy and 37 cents of every dollar on the military is lopsided foreign policy. Redirecting a small portion of military spending toward diplomacy, development and civilian peacemaking could have huge return on investment for US leadership; moreover, it could bring peace and improve the lives of millions of people around the world.

The debate to spend smarter in the federal budget is happening right now. Will you join the call for good government and peace by contacting your member today? Help us amplify the voices from the Quaker Public Policy Institute and those who have called their congressional offices.

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