Backlash in Congress over Cutting the Pentagon Budget

Our efforts to cut military spending have run into a brick wall.

On February 2, Senator John McCain and five of his Republican senate colleagues introduced the “Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2012,” which would shield the Pentagon from the across-the-board budget reductions required under last year’s debt deal.

The ‘sequestration’ terms in the “Budget Control Act of 2011” mandated equal cuts in both the military and domestic programs over the next ten years. Such a dollar-for-dollar arrangement, of course, heavily favors the Pentagon, which over the past decade has seen its budget double in size and is so bloated with waste that it can’t account for literally trillions of dollars in government appropriations.

But now, McCain and his cronies in the Military-Industrial Complex want to prohibit even those modest reductions in Pentagon spending by instead requiring a freeze on federal employee pay and a reduction in the federal workforce. The military’s out-of-control spending habits would be allowed to continue unchecked with the domestic budget bearing the full brunt of the cuts.

So after a year of political dickering and brinksmanship over the budget, the choice boils down to this:

It’s the Pentagon or us.

And if the Pentagon wins, we’re cooked. The military will just keep eating up more of the federal government’s resources and we’ll never recover from the economic recession. To reinvest in our communities and create jobs absolutely requires that we redirect our scarce tax dollars from the Pentagon to domestic needs.

As Robert Borosage of the respected think tank, “Campaign for America’s Future,” said of McCain’s bill:

Republicans believe bloated Pentagon budgets strengthen American security. In fact, the reverse is true. The most important security priority for America is making the investments here at home vital to reviving our economy, modernizing our infrastructure, educating our children, and getting our fiscal house in order. To achieve this, we need to reduce unnecessary spending — and there is no greater source of that than the Pentagon.

The Cold War is over. Bin Laden is dead and al-Qaida dispersed. The U.S. cannot and should not police the world. The Pentagon now spends almost as much on the military as the rest of the world combined. It is the largest source of waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government. The Pentagon budget more than doubled over the past decade, bringing total U.S. defense spending to historically high levels not seen since World War II. It’s higher in comparable dollars than it was under Ronald Reagan in the midst of the Cold War.

We can and should reduce our military spending, revise our forces to fit the new world we live in. Even after the full sequester, the U.S. will retain by far the most powerful—and expensive—military in the world. These Senators would weaken our security, not strengthen it. They are defending the entrenched interests of the military-industrial complex a Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, warned us about, not the real security of the American people.

John McCain is just one loud voice in a huge pro-war choir. The whole Military-Industrial Complex is rejecting limits on military spending.

And unless we rise up and resist this backlash — starting today — they’re going to overwhelm us with their scare tactics and lobbying clout.

1. Contact your senators and representative. Tell them to speak out for real cuts in the Pentagon budget, and to put that money to work rebuilding our communities and fighting unemployment.

2.Write a letter to the editor. Almost half of Americans say we can cut military spending safely. Let’s get that message into the media, where both the public and our politicians can see it.

And do it today… before any more damage is inflicted on the federal government’s ability to revive the economy and get Americans back to work.

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