iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Robert Naiman

Robert Naiman

GET UPDATES FROM Robert Naiman

A Vote on the People's Budget is a Vote on the Wars

Posted: 04/14/11 03:45 PM ET

The House of Representatives is expected to vote soon, perhaps by tomorrow morning, on the People's Budget put forward by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

A vote in favor of the People's Budget is a vote against the endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, because the People's Budget would end the wars.

In particular, the People's Budget would end emergency war funding beginning in FY 2013:

End emergency war funding beginning in FY 2013 The CBO baseline assumes that all discretionary funding--including emergency war funding--grows with inflation (from a starting point of $159 billion in 2011) when projecting future discretionary spending. Eliminating all emergency defense funding starting in 2012 would save $674 billion over 2012-16 and $1.6 trillion over 2012-21 relative to this baseline.

Furthermore, the People's Budget would cut the "base" military budget (that is, the "not for the current wars" or "future wars" military budget.) It would:

Reduce base discretionary defense spending Our budget institutes a realistic reduction in defense spending on conventional and strategic forces and capabilities that would not compromise our national security interests or capabilities. Savings would accrue from decreasing routine deployment of U.S. troops overseas (ignoring overseas contingency operations), slowing the growth of the Army and Marine Corps as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, reducing the fleet size of the U.S. Navy, reducing the number of Air Force squadrons, reducing the strategic capabilities, and canceling outdated cold-war weapon systems (including variations of the F-35, MV-22 Osprey, and Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle), among other savings.

This is important because there is tremendous waste, fraud, and abuse in the military budget, far more than in any other branch of government. It is important because much of the military budget is a form of corporate welfare, a subsidy from the needy to the greedy. It is important because if one is going to cut spending, it's far better from the standpoint of the values and interests of the vast majority of Americans to cut military spending than to cut domestic spending, something that opinion polls show the overwhelming majority of Americans understand perfectly well.

But it's also important because the greater Washington's capacity for war, the more wars we will have. The creation of additional capacity to launch wars creates an incentive to use that capacity. In the long run, if we want our government to stop launching wars of choice all over the globe, we have to take some of the Pentagon's toys away. Our leaders - of both parties - have exhibited a strong tendency to choose war when they perceive war to be an option. Take away the option of war, and they become devoted advocates of diplomacy and negotiation.

A spectacular illustration of the role of capacity has been provided this week by the diplomatic wrangling over the war in Libya. The French and British governments demanded that the US increase its participation in the bombing of Libya. The French and the British complained that the US has military capabilities that the French and the British don't have.

This begs the question: if this military capability is so important to the French and the British, why don't they have it? And the answer is: because French and British taxpayers won't pay for it. French and British taxpayers would rather spend their money on education, health care, and other things that benefit their public rather than on high-tech weapons for their elite to go on foreign military adventures.

Good for the French and British publics. If we want to seriously address the domestic problems facing the United States, our public needs to become more like the French and British publics: putting domestic needs ahead of foreign military adventures, and making it stick. A first step is a big yes vote on the House floor for the People's Budget. You can reach your Representative via the Capitol Switchboard, 202-225-3121.

 

Follow Robert Naiman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/naiman