Letter on Pentagon Spending to Joint Select Committee Members
Dear Joint Select Committee Members:
We recognize you have a tough job ahead of you, but we also understand that the goals you have set in front of you are serious and meaningful. You have been tasked with finding deficit reduction of at least $1.2 to $1.5 trillion dollars.
We are writing to encourage you to look at America’s excessive Pentagon spending as a source for some of that reduction.
Defense spending has nearly doubled in the last decade, comprising more than 50% of discretionary spending, and more than all our top rivals’ defense spending combined. As House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said earlier this year, "Everything's got to be on the table. Everyone in this town must go through what people at home are doing-which is doing more with less, and prioritizing what we should be about.”
Representatives Kevin McCarthy (CA), Tim Scott (SC), Robert Hurt (VA) and others have stressed concerns over the level of bureaucracy and waste in the Pentagon budget. The bipartisan Rivlin-Domenici and Simpson-Bowles commissions each found up to $1 trillion in savings in the defense budget that can be made responsibly. Even Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that “precise and focused” defense cuts must be on the table.
The Joint Select Committee has the opportunity to begin a far-sighted process that asks defense to share in discipline and frugality – in a focused and strategic way. Failing to do so will miss an opportunity to ask the Pentagon to make hard choices, prioritize and become more efficient. And it will likely usher in a day, down the road, where cuts must be made in a non-strategic way.
We know there are those in Congress who have said that defense should be spared any cuts during your part of the budgeting process. The United States currently spends more on defense than at any time since World War II, yet the Budget Control Act did not mandate any cuts in defense spending. For fiscal years 2012 and 2013, temporary "security" spending caps were created and apply to a broad category of programs beyond the Pentagon, including homeland security, veterans, diplomacy and international development. We are concerned that disproportionate cuts will fall on non-military accounts. While the administration has offered some reductions to the planned rate of increase for defense spending, the Joint Select Committee should carefully scrutinize where further reductions could be made.
Once again, we strongly urge you to look at the Pentagon as you consider how to significantly reduce the deficit in the federal budget. The Pentagon budget that takes up over half of the discretionary budget should be able to be trimmed. In this time of austerity, it is unimaginable that a budget as large as the Pentagon’s has nothing more to give.
3P Human Security
Amalgamated Transit Union
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
Americans Friends Service Committee
Campaign for America's Future
Church of the Brethren
Coalition On Human Needs
Come Home America
Community Action Partnership
Council for a Livable World
Every Child Matters Education Fund
Foreign Policy In Focus
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Friends of the Earth
Health Care For America Now
Main Street Alliance
Media Equity Collaborative
National Council of Jewish Women
National Organization for Women
National Priorities Project
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Peace Action West
Public Education Network
Service Employees International Union
United for a Fair Economy
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Voices for Progress
Wider Opportunities for Women
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions