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).

Writing for the Street Spirit: My 17 Year Journey

Writing for Street Spirit has awakened in me a sense of responsibility toward others. Street Spirit is a way for people silenced by big money and big media to have a voice.

Animal Friends: A Saving Grace for Homeless People

“I wrapped her in my jacket and promised I’d never let anybody hurt her again. And that’s my promise to her for the rest of her life. In my mind she’s a little angel that saved me as much as I saved her.”

A Testament to Street Spirit’s Justice Journalism

The game was rigged against the poor, but I will always relish the fact that Street Spirit took on the Oakland mayor and city council for their perverse assault on homeless recyclers. For me, that was hallowed ground. I will never regret the fact that we did not surrender that ground.

Tragic Death of Oakland Tenant Mary Jesus

Being evicted felt like the end of her life. As a disabled woman, she saw nothing ahead but a destitute life on the streets. She told a friend, “If I’m evicted tomorrow, I have no choice but to kill myself. I have no resources, no savings, no money, and nowhere to go.”

They Left Him to Die Like a Tramp on the Street

Life is sacred. It is not just an economic statistic when someone suffers and dies on the streets of our nation. It is some mother’s son, or daughter. It is a human being made in the image of God. It is a desecration of the sacred when that life is torn down.

Joy in the Midst of Sorrow in Santa Maria Orphanage

This amazing priest not only housed 300 orphaned children from the streets of Mexico City, but he also took care of 20 homeless elders in his own house and started a home for children dying of AIDS. Father Norman also ran a soup kitchen that fed many people in the village.