At Hofstra on Tuesday night, you won't hear either presidential candidate or any of their pre-approved debate moderators talk about why the richest nation in the world ranks #2 in child poverty, why our schools leave so many kids unprepared for the world, or why Afghanistan is falling apart despite us spending more there in one year ($113 billion) than we do for one year of food stamps ($75 billion).
Today's DoD budget is close to $700 billion, which is more than the next 10 biggest military spenders, combined. Obama's proposed budget is a whopping $755 billion. By cutting the Pentagon budget in half, and still spending way more on our military than any other country in the world, we could easily afford the $30 billion cost for a free K-thru-college education for all Americans, and use the other $300 billion-plus for green energy investments that would create millions of new jobs and drastically improve the deteriorating environment.
These are easy budget cuts that wouldn't endanger anyone's safety. We could start with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which could cost up to $1 trillion between now and the project's projected finishing point. Even John McCain calls it a "scandal and a tragedy." The rest of the cuts could come from closing overseas military bases and ending all foreign occupations like the one in Afghanistan. The costly Afghan war was largely started to help the corporate entities looking to profit from a natural gas pipeline called the New Silk Road, which goes from the Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean. The Taliban have steadfastly refused the pipeline's route through Afghanistan ever since President Bill Clinton tried to woo them at the White House in 1996. Aside from the $574 billion in tax dollars, this is a continuously fruitless effort that's cost 2,136 Americans their lives.
Obama wants us in Afghanistan until a decade after 2014. Romney wants us there, and possibly Iran, another huge natural gas pocket that Romney's donors in the gas industry are salivating over. Currently, Green Party nominee Jill Stein is the only candidate seriously talking about making long-term investments in education and green energy with a 50 percent cut to the military budget -- and likely one of the reasons she and other third-party candidates are blocked from having a voice at the upcoming debate at Hofstra. We're doomed to have never-ending deficits and wars until we allow alternative ideas into the mainstream conversation.