Pentagon’s Stealth Spending Spree

We’re reducing government spending by shrinking investment in our long-term well-being while ignoring the military budget. Even cutting nearly a trillion dollars out of the defense budget over the next 10 years would leave the government spending 14 percent more on defense than it did during the Cold War, according to an analysis by the Sustainable Defense Task Force.

Increased military funds are set to glide past Congress’ so-called budget hawks like a Stealth Bomber.

by Robin Aura Kanegis

It seems like simple math: A military budget that has doubled in 12 years, plus worries about the deficit, equals deep cuts in military spending.

Yet the House Republican majority has restricted its proposed budget cuts to nonmilitary discretionary spending — that is, the spending that goes to our communities, schools, and infrastructure.

The Pentagon has apparently developed the ultimate cloaking mechanism — one that protects the military’s budget bloat from mathematical reality. The military budget accounts for more than half of federal discretionary spending, as well as nearly half of all military spending worldwide. But despite this lopsided investment, increased military appropriations are set to glide past Congress’ so-called budget hawks like a Stealth Bomber.

We’re reducing government spending by shrinking investment in our long-term well-being while ignoring the military budget, which is like dieting by cutting back on salad while continuing to eat three desserts a day. Even cutting nearly a trillion dollars out of the defense budget over the next 10 years — a sliver off that figurative third dessert — would leave the government spending 14 percent more on defense than it did during the Cold War, according to an analysis by the Sustainable Defense Task Force.

Yet the measure the House will consider would cut the president’s defense budget request for fiscal 2011 by just 2.8 percent, compared with a 20.6 percent reduction in the budget for nonmilitary foreign operations. Under this proposal, the defense budget will still increase by $8.1 billion over the previous year.

Meanwhile, the fragments of federal spending that address human, infrastructure, and other nonmilitary needs are being scrutinized down to the dollar. And this is at a time when the number of Americans in need is growing with every job lost and home foreclosed.

This grinding economic crisis has seen more Americans fall into poverty, increasing the burden on programs providing food, housing, and health-care assistance. We invest tax dollars in a shared safety net so it will be there to catch us during hard times such as these.

 

Unemployment, foreclosures and homelessness are at crisis levels.  Why spend $708 billion on the military in the face of growing human needs at home?

Unemployment, foreclosures and homelessness are at crisis levels. Why spend $708 billion on the military in the face of growing human needs at home?

 

Jack Lew, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, has written that “the sacrifices needed to begin putting our fiscal house in order must be broadly shared.”

Yet all the cuts being proposed in Congress will hit low- and middle-income families and communities the hardest.

Lew says the easy cuts are behind us. But we have yet to seriously consider some of them.

It’s time to make budget cuts where we need them most — in our off-the-charts military spending.

 

Robin Aura Kanegis is director of public policy and the Washington Office for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).

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