The mega-problem of America’s debt is one of the biggest issues in this election season. Budget cuts are the theme of the hour, and slashing the military budget is being brought up, surprisingly, as a safe political option. At a time of a severe unemployment crisis, poor economic activity, and rising inequality, voters across the political spectrum are reaching a consensus that the pentagon’s reserves can be better used elsewhere in the nation. Asking a military machine to sacrifice its treasure was once politically impossible, but not so anymore.
David Ignatius writes in The Washington Post that calls for fiscal reform are being made from inside the military. In his article “How debt imperils national security,” Ignatius writes:
Several months ago, a group of logistics officers at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces developed a national security strategy as a class exercise. Their No. 1 recommendation for maintaining U.S. global leadership was “restore fiscal responsibility.”
That’s a small illustration of what’s becoming a consensus among national security experts inside and outside the Obama administration: To play an effective role in the world, the United States must rebuild its economic strength at home. After a decade of war and financial crisis, America has run up debts that pose a national security problem, not just an economic one.
Christopher Hellman says in his article “Putting the Pentagon on a Diet” for TomDispatch that the times may in fact be changing, and the congressmen and senators are hearing the call:
Last February, President Obama announced the formation of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to advise his new administration on options for addressing the national debt. The commission has just begun its deliberations and already some of its members are stating publicly that, as they consider their options for cutting government spending, “everything is on the table,” including the military budget. In the Washington we’ve known since talk of that “peace dividend” disappeared, this simple fact qualifies as eye-opening.
In response to the formation of the commission, Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), long an outspoken opponent of unnecessary military spending, has convened a panel of national security experts, the Sustainable Defense Task Force. Its job is to generate a series of recommendations on how to cut the defense budget while preserving national security. Frank plans to submit these recommendations to the Commission in June.
Two men who have responded the loudest to the political shift are Rep. Alan Grayson and Rep. Ron Paul. Rep. Grayson’s new bill in Congress called “The War is Making You Poor Act”, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Paul, tackles the portions of the Pentagon budget that can be slashed right away. Grayson and Paul cut through the bullshit like no other duo, and they actually care about the interests of the American people, as well as the well-being of the country.
* The proposed cuts are to be made in the “overseas contingency operations funds,” which is estimated at $159 billion dollars. You can find more info about Bill H.R. 5353 – “War Is Making You Poor Act” by clicking here.
* Video of Grayson introducing the bill on the House floor.