To the Editor:
If the Republican Congress were really serious about balancing the budget they would take a long hard look at the Pentagon, as that is where the lion’s share of discretionary spending is located. The cuts they are proposing are clearly ideologically-driven, as they come at the expense of programs designed to help the poor and middle class. Here are 10 reasons why military spending should be on the chopping block:
• It accounts for over half of the discretionary budget – $717 billion out of a total discretionary budget of $1.247 trillion — 57 percent.
• Military spending has doubled in the last 10 years — from $334 billion in 2001 to $722 billion in 2010.
(3) The Pentagon budget has a history of cost overruns — $300 billion above what Congress authorized for various weapons systems in the last 5 years.
(4) The Pentagon budget has not been accountable to Congress and there are no audits.
(5) Pentagon contracting is out of control. Standards, quality control and review for redundancies could yield significant efficiencies and savings. And, as retired Army Lt. General John Vines says, we don’t even know if all this activity is making us safer.
(6) The U.S. military budget accounts for 46.5 percent of global military spending.
(7) U.S. presence in the world includes hundreds of military bases in Europe, particularly in Germany. Are these bases necessary to our defenses?
(8) The military budget is funding weapons systems — added in by Congress — that even the Pentagon does not want or need.
(9) Military contracts are not a job-creation engine. Military dollars spent in a state yield the least number of jobs, compared to investments in health, education, transportation, and even tax cuts.
(10) Local economies are not dependent on job creation through military contracts with private firms. In all but one state, at least 94 percent of the gross state domestic product does not arise from military contracts with local companies. Even in Virginia, which hosts the Pentagon, 90 percent of the state’s economy relies on non-military goods and services.
Before they cut Medicare, Social Security, food stamps, Head Start, education, health care, foreign aid, and other programs which meet human needs, let’s demand that our Congressional representatives cut waste, graft, unneeded weapons systems and military bases, and unprovoked and unwinnable wars from the War (Defense?) Department budget.