Biden wants to spend even more on defense than Trump

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Robert Reich knows a thing or two about federal budgets, and the economist, who has served in three presidential administrations, says something is wrong with that Joe Biden’s plan Increase Pentagon spending above former President Trump’s proposed levels.

“The Pentagon is already spending: $ 740 billion a year, $ 2,000,000,000 every day, $ 1,000,000 every minute.” says the former Minister of Labor. “The last thing we need is a bigger military budget.”

Unfortunately, this is what the President is looking for. This has led Reich to announce that he is “frankly disappointed that Biden is proposing $ 715 billion for the Pentagon – an increase from Trump’s $ 704 billion defense budget – rather than returning to the level of Obama defense spending. Biden era or less ”.

“Or less” is the right direction, especially at a moment when Republican deficit hawks are circling in preparation for attacks on domestic spending, essential for working families hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden’s $ 1.5 trillion budget plan has much to recommend. The President seeks to significantly increase funding for education and suggests investment in criminal justice and police reform, the fight against gun violence, and other worthy efforts. “Despite the positive investment in these programs,” says MP Barbara Lee, “I was incredibly disappointed with the sharp rise in Pentagon spending to an even higher level than the Trump administration. With so many people across the country struggling to make ends meet, the last thing we need to do is increase investment in wasteful spending by the Pentagon. ” To notice that “this budget adds twelve billion new dollars for weapons of war,” the longtime critic of Endless Wars urges us, “only to think about how that same amount could be used to invest in jobs, health care, and the fight against inequality – especially if we ourselves fight back. “A public health and economic crisis that is unique in a century.”

Lee was once a lonely voice for cutting the Pentagon’s spending. But the California Democrat now has allies in powerful places. “I have serious concerns” says Senate Budgets Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., “On the proposed $ 753 billion budget proposal for the bloated Pentagon – an increase of $ 12.3 billion from last year of the Trump administration. At a time when the US is already spending more on the military than the next 12 nations combined, it is time for us to seriously examine the massive cost overruns, waste and fraud that currently exist at the Pentagon. “

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) Is blunt: “We are in the midst of a crisis that has left millions of families unable to afford food, rent and bills. But at the same time we are putting billions of dollars into a bloated Pentagon budget. Do not increase defense spending. Cut it – and invest that money in our churches. ”

That’s not a radical answer. When Data for progress polled voters nationwide on budget priorities last year, 56 percent supported a 10 percent cut in the Pentagon budget to help fight the coronavirus pandemic and finance education, health care and housing. 69 percent of Democrats were enthusiastic about the proposed cut, which was striking. The Republican support of 51 percent was even more striking.

When the idea was brought to Congress in July 2020, 93 members of the House of Representatives came elected for a 10 percent cut, as did 23 senators. It wasn’t a victory, of course, but it was a groundbreaking sign of support for reduced spending on the military-industrial complex.

On this basis, can the progressives of Congress build on support to change priorities in the Biden budget? It will not be easy. Center Democrats will be wary of any cuts, and Republicans can be expected to demagogue the issue. But progressive members of the caucus have successfully got the new administration to abandon some of the worst Pentagon initiatives of the Trump years. For example a new one Letter signed by 70 members of the House praises Biden for “[his] first steps to end US support for the war in Yemen, including announcing an end to US military participation in offensive Saudi actions; a review of arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in its six-year air war in Yemen; and a revocation of President Trump’s terrorism designation against the Houthis with the express aim of averting a hunger crisis. “(The letter urges the President to go further and “use all available US leverage on the Saudi regime to demand an immediate and unconditional end to its blockade, which threatens 16 million malnourished Yemenis on the verge of famine.”)

One of the key players in the fight to end US support for the war in Yemen, Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., Believes the time has come to urge the government and Congress to rethink spending priorities more broadly.

“A proposed $ 13 billion increase in defense spending is way too much” [the Pentagon budget’s] in a time of relative peace, it is already growing rapidly, ”says the Wisconsin Democrat, who co-chairs with Lee the Defense Spending Reduction Assembly. “We can’t best rebuild when the Pentagon’s budget is bigger than it was under.” Donald Trump. “

Pocan has Ideas where cuts should be made. For example, he says, “We need to stop funding former President Trump’s $ 1.5 trillion nuclear modernization plan and conduct a new nuclear stance review, as each of the last three presidents has done. The United States has far more nuclear weapons than is needed for our security, so let’s stop funding the garbage. ”Pocan not only argues for“ no new spending on nuclear weapons, ”but also points out the need to reduce waste. and examine Pentagon accountability to eliminate kickbacks.

This is a message that will resonate with the American people, says MP Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). who cares that there is a growing awareness that “it is simply inexcusable to continue to shower gun manufacturers with hundreds of billions of dollars in Pentagon waste.”

Stakeholders share the view that this is exactly the right time for Congressmen to advocate tightening the inflated Pentagon budget. “After a year of fatal evidence that throwing money in the Pentagon does not protect us from modern threats, it is unreasonable not only to prolong Trump’s buying frenzy, but to intensify it.” says Erica Fein from Win Without War. “Deadly pandemics, climate crises, desperate inequality – there are no military solutions to the greatest threats to global security. Yet while we are repeatedly asked how we can afford to face these truly existential threats, the same question is never asked to replenish the already overcrowded coffers of the Pentagon. To put it bluntly, keeping nearly unlimited resources in the pockets of arms manufacturers while underfunding public goods will only undermine the security of people in the United States and around the world. ”

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