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Time to Cut Pentagon Spending - Now

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Headlined to None 3/4/13

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by The National Guard

It is time to cut the military budget.

It has been time to cut the military budget for many years. Like right after WWII. Otherwise known as a peace dividend. Free up funds to pay for school, job training, health care, clear water and air, mass transit, housing, hunger, jobs.

Under sequestration as part of the federal budget-deficit deal, half the budget cuts would come from the military, around $45 billion this year - perhaps 6% of existing spending.   And those cuts include reductions in growth. That is way too little. Lawrence Korb, defense advisor for former President Reagan, estimates $150 billion a year could be cut while maintaining the Reagan-era level of military strength.

Imagine how much you could cut if your focus was primarily to defend the US, not to protect oil companies - or to fight an attack by Stalin's tank divisions, which no longer exist. Groups like the Green Party argue for cuts of $300 billion or more - and still the US would have by far the largest and strongest military.

The whole idea behind the sequestration deal was that neither Democrats or Republicans would allow any real cuts to the military. And there has been a bipartisan push to find a solution that spares the military from anything off than a little trimming of the fat around the edges. Even the budget deal pushed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus would reduce the military cuts well below the sequestration requirements.

The Republicans of course want to slash spending on programs that benefit the majority of Americans. The first part of the strategy was to create a deficit with huge tax cuts that benefit the rich that creates the deficits that provides the excuse to cut social spending - a weak safety nets makes for a complaint work force.

But Obama and the Democrats have put cuts on the table to programs like Social Security and Medicare while be willing to accept major cuts in other critical domestic programs such as health care, hunger, housing, environment, etc.

Below I go into how wasteful and criminally corrupt Pentagon spending has become. How we have fallen into the standard trap of countries 'arming themselves not to fight the next war but rather the past one (from the 1940's, or as President Obama pointed out in the last debate, we don't need as many bayonets as we used to - we also don't need as many tanks or aircraft carriers either).

But first a little history lesson.

WWII was so long ago that almost everyone forgets that we never had a permanent standing army before them. After the few wars we previously fought, the soldiers went back home to raise their families, grow some crops, run a local business.

That was the conservative position (i.e., vastly different from the neo-con pretenders). America's role was not to be the bully / policemen of the world. National security meant defending our borders. And with the oceans being two of our borders, and two allies (Canada and Mexico) being the other borders, US was and still is one of the safest countries in the world in terms of external military threats.

President Eisenhower, the Leader of the Allied Forces, knew that he was giving the country a raw deal when he decided to perpetuate the Cold War against the Soviet Union launched by Truman. While he felt he had no choice, he felt guilty enough that his farewell address to the country warned us to guard against the growing power and threat to democracy (and corruption) of the Congressional-Military-Industrial complex (he chickened out at the last moment and deleted the Congressional part).

Needless to say his mea culpa didn't do much to curb the money-devouring monster he had unleashed on America - and the world.

No one knows how much we really spend on the military.. The low-ball estimate is that it is $700 billion (a 100% increase in the last decade) but most believe it runs over a trillion dollars when you add in interest payments from past wars, nuclear weapons, intelligence gathering, Veteran benefits, Homeland Security, etc.

The military budget is so out-of-control and hidden in so many places that it has never been audited, making it wide open for fraud and theft.   There was an effort late in the Clinton administration to start reconciling transactions with documentation in the Department of Defense. They audited $7 trillion in transactions and found that they could not justify $2.3 trillion of it.   In 2011, the General Accounting Office reported "serious financial-management problems at the Department of Defense that made its financial statements unauditable".

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President of Green Education and Legal Fund Inc. Executive Director of Hunger Action Network. Author of Madame President: The Unauthorized Biography of the First Green Party President. Co
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we need to free up military spending to invest in ... by Mark Dunlea on Monday, Mar 4, 2013 at 4:59:50 PM
If you want to see military waste, watch the M... by Ceric on Tuesday, Mar 5, 2013 at 11:23:26 AM