Posts Tagged ‘Move the Money’
By Lawrence J. Korb
Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress
April 3, 2012
About Lawrence J. Korb: Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, served as assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration.
Unless Congress acts to repeal sequestration, the core defense budget (exclusive of war costs) for FY 2013 will be “only” $472 billion, about $50 billion less than the Pentagon requested. There are at least six reasons why Congress should not act.
1. First, a budget of $472 billion is more than sufficient to protect our national security. In inflation adjusted or real dollars, this is what we spent in FY 2007, the penultimate year of the Bush administration, when not even defense hawks were complaining about the budget being too low. Additionally, this budget would keep real defense spending above the Cold War average, despite the fact that we then faced an existential threat from Soviet Russia, a real “geopolitical foe.”
2. Second, in real terms, the core defense budget has gone up for an unprecedented 13 straight years. As Dick Armey, the former House leader, has noted, despite their rhetoric, the Pentagon has not yet made any real reductions.
3. Third, if Congress allows sequestration to remain in effect over the next decade, the total reductions in projected levels of defense spending will be $500 billion or 14 percent, much smaller than previous reductions. Dwight Eisenhower reduced defense spending by 27 percent in real terms over eight years, Richard Nixon by 29 percent in six years, and Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton by 35 percent in 11 years.
4. Fourth, reducing defense spending by $500 billion over the next decade will help reduce the federal deficit, which military leaders, like former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, correctly label the greatest threat to our national security.
5. Fifth, sequestration will force the Pentagon’s leaders to make the tough decisions, which even they admit they have not had to make over the past decade. These include: reforming the military retirement, healthcare, and compensation systems, as recommended by their own task forces; canceling or reducing the numbers of unnecessary or underperforming systems like the V-22 and the F-35; and cutting our nuclear arsenal to a realistic level, as recommended by the Air War College’s School of Advanced Air and Space Studies.
6. Sixth, and most important, the alarmist claims of those opposed to cuts are bogus. Even with a FY 2007 level budget, the United States will still spend more on defense than the next 17 nations combined, most of whom are our allies, and three times more than the Chinese. We would still have more ships than the next 11 navies in the world combined, more manned and unmanned aircraft than any other nation, and a total ground force (active duty and reserve) of 1.5 million highly-trained people. As Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was forced to admit, even with these cuts the United States will still be a global power.
The Town Hall Meeting in Raleigh, February 20th, brought together 150 peace advocates to send the message for a need to reorder our priorities. We need to “Bring Our War Dollars Home and Restore Our Communities.“
The keynote speaker was Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and State Dept. official who resigned his post in Afghanistan in protest of US policies. He encouraged people to advocate for hearings for Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, the recent whistle blower on Afghanistan. See the NY Times brief and a link to the full report. Also view the video interview with PBS Newshour.
Mr. Hoh also quoted the World Economic Forum, which ranks the US 52nd in the world for math and science education. Even if you believe we need a strong military, he said, “you can’t have kids steering air craft carriers who don’t know math and science”. Read more about this in The Independent article about the event.
Hear more from Matthew Hoh on Frank Stacio’s “The State of Things”, airing on WUNC radio Thursday Feb 23rd, 9:00 and 12:00.
Three North Carolina Congressmen were present, Walter Jones (Dist 3), Brad Miller (Dist 13), and David Price (Dist 4). Each presented their views on the theme to “Bring Our War Dollars Home, Restore Our Communities.”
The three US Representatives were applauded for uniting around the message to move up the timetable for withdrawal of combat troops form Afghanistan to the end of 2013. See N&O article on the event and this issue.
Along with 84 others, including NC Rep. Howard Coble, they all signed a letter to the President, stating in part:
“The United States intervened in Afghanistan to destroy al Qaeda’s safe haven, remove the Taliban government that sheltered al Qaeda, and pursue those who planned the September 11th attacks on the United States; those objectives have largely been met and no longer require a large presence of combat troops in Afghanistan.”
State Representative Paul Luebke introduced the event. He spoke about how the Triangle cannot afford a regional mass transportation system. We finally had to pass a ½ cent sales tax increase to try to develop a fund for the system. Meanwhile we send away billions of dollars a year to be used for war making. Also participating as moderator of the press conference was State Senator, Ellie Kinnaird.
Several speakers from the audience talked about the hardships they face or the people they work with are facing. In an economic downturn, with so many people without work, how can we afford to continue funding a military bigger than the next 14 countries combined? (Even if we could afford it, is it wise?)
Rev. Nancy Petty, Senior Pastor of Pullen Baptist Church, closed the event encouraging the audience to make peace not war and be foolish enough to think that we can make a difference.
We extend our gratitude to the Congressmen, Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, Rep. Paul Luebke, and Matthew Hoh for their presentations and leadership and to all who attended, participated, and helped with organizing.
Please continue to be involved through our “Cost of War” groups. We need people to write letters to the editor, call Congress, plan educational events, fund-raise, and strategize. The next step of the campaign will be called “Peace Voter”. We will send a questionnaire to all candidates about these issues. Contact Betsy Crites at (919) 381-5969.
Bring The War Dollars Home: Restore Our Communities
Town Hall Meeting
Raleigh, Legislative Buidling
February 20th, 2012
Reordering Priorities – Connecting Issues
A Planning Conference for Long-Term Change
October 29th, 2011
Reordering our Society’s Priorities and Connecting our Peace and Justice Issues were the themes of the October 29, 2011, NC Peace Action/AFSC conference in Raleigh. Fifty attendees representing 8 Congressional districts shared what’s happening around the state on the Move the Money campaign, collaboration with HKonJ, the Occupy movement, and other social/economic justice issues. People traveled from Charlotte, Asheville, Greensboro, Burlington, Pittsboro, and Chapel Hill, as well as from Durham and Raleigh. The conference opened with readings from inspirational figures.
Representatives of the Durham Peace Action organizing committee reported on their successful campaign “Bring the War Dollars Home/Fund Our Communities”. After getting 125 citizens to sign an invitation to elected local leaders, they held a Town Hall Meeting attended by 13 elected officials including Rep. David Price of the 4th district. An op-ed was printed in the Durham News section of the News & Observer, and cost of war resolutions have passed the Durham City Council and Durham County Commissioners.
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