Guns or butter is of course the real issue. It's unfortunate, all these decades after Eisenhower's warning about the pernicious, corrupting influence of the Military Industrial Complex, that we cannot count on those in Washington to heed the dangers.
As Martin Luther King told us, "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." What kind of society can regard such indiscriminate violence and taking of life as a justifiable form of defense?
Elected to the U.S. Senate seven times, I know about the running for re-election on presidents' policies. In fact, my re-election in 1998 can be attributed in large measure to my vigorous opposition to President Clinton's NAFTA with Mexico.
Panetta and his counterparts in the war industry can play Chicken Little all they want about war budget spending cuts, but they can't change the simple fact that military spending is terrible at creating jobs.
As the Administration indulges itself with wars in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has massive economic problems at home. The American people get myths, rhetoric and unemployment, while war profiteers get the gold.
The deal worked out to allow a rise in the debt ceiling gives us our first real chance in more than a decade to make significant cuts to our country's out-of-control war budget, but we are going to have to fight for them.
What would you do with $1 trillion? Unfortunately, one of Washington, D.C.'s answers over the last decade has been, "waste it on two wars that make us less safe and cause deep suffering at home and abroad."
While 68 percent of Americans worry that the war's costs affect our ability to fix problems here at home, we're wasting $2 billion a week on a war that's not making us safer. That sounds pretty stupid to me.
Thanks to policymakers spending New York taxpayer money on the Afghanistan War instead of things like mass transit this year, the state lost 107,904 potential jobs, along with all the economic activity those jobs would create.
For the full cost of the war for one week -- $2 billion -- we could extend unemployment insurance for about 6.7 million people for a week. Bring back the money being wasted on a war that's not making us safer. We'd like to use it to put people to work again.