On Tuesday, the Senate passed the massive $778 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in a vote of 89 to 10. The legislation is a compromise version of the NDAA that was already passed by the House and now just needs President Biden’s signature to become law. Congress added $25 billion more to the spending bill than Biden requested. The bill authorizes $740.3 billion for the Pentagon, $27.8 billion for the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons program, and $9.9 billion for “Defense-related Activities Outside NDAA Jurisdiction.” In September, the House passed a different version of the NDAA that included an amendment from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) that would have ended US support for the war in Yemen, but the measure was stripped from the compromise version.
Even as Congress moves to increase the Pentagon budget well beyond the astronomical levels proposed by the Biden administration, a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has outlined three different ways to cut $1 trillion in Department of Defense spending over the next decade. A rational defense policy could yield far more in the way of reductions, but resistance from the Pentagon, weapons contractors, and their many allies in Congress would be fierce. After all, in its consideration of the bill that authorizes such budget levels for next year, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives recently voted to add $25 billion to the already staggering $750 billion the Biden administration requested for the Pentagon and related work on nuclear weapons at the Department of Energy.
Last Friday, Congress passed the Biden “Infrastructure” Bill which will be signed into law post haste says the White House. The bill, designed to upgrade roads, bridges, transport and broadband, is a bricks and mortar affair and will benefit industry and commerce. It is the first of two bills that have been the center of attention for months now. The second bill is the Build Back Better Bill. This bill has provisions for child care and preschool, eldercare, healthcare, prescription drug pricing, immigration and curbing greenhouse gas emissions. This might be described as a bill for people, not for bricks and mortar. It has been the darling of progressives in Congress. The White House has now promised it will come up for a vote by November 15.
Today the Congressional Budget Office released a new report, “Illustrative Options for National Defense Under a Smaller Defense Budget,” that outlines three different options for cutting funding for the Department of Defense by $1 trillion, or 14 percent, over the next ten years. The report makes clear that the United States has options for reducing spending on the Pentagon – without sacrificing security. It outlines three different options for how the United States could reallocate Pentagon resources to meet the current military strategy for less. “The U.S. military budget is now higher than it was at the peak of the Vietnam War, the Korean War, or the Cold War. This report shows that there are viable options for immediate, substantial reductions to the Pentagon budget,” said Lindsay Koshgarian, Program Director of the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.
President Biden and the Democratic Congress are facing a crisis as the popular domestic agenda they ran on in the 2020 election is held hostage by two corporate Democratic Senators, fossil-fuel consigliere Joe Manchin and payday-lender favorite Kyrsten Sinema. But the very week before the Dems’ $350 billion-per-year domestic package hit this wall of corporate money-bags, all but 38 House Democrats voted to hand over more than double that amount to the Pentagon. Senator Manchin has hypocritically described the domestic spending bill as “fiscal insanity,” but he has voted for a much larger Pentagon budget every year since 2016. Real fiscal insanity is what Congress does year after year, taking most of its discretionary spending off the table and handing it over to the Pentagon before even considering the country’s urgent domestic needs.
Twenty years since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the human and financial cost of the United States’ failed “War on Terror” is plain to see: as one headline put it, “20 years, $6 trillion, 900,000 lives.” The estimates of lives lost and trillions spent vary throughout media sources, but even the most conservative estimates speak for themselves. Yet, while the Pentagon billed America’s latest imperial endeavors as an imperative series of operations aimed at protecting U.S. national security, there is a simpler, far more cynical and obscene motivation behind these forever wars, according to the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine, Andrew Cockburn: money. On this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” Cockburn joins host Robert Scheer to discuss his most recent book, “Spoils of War: Power, Profit and the American War Machine,” released by Verso Books on September 21.
The authorization for military use of force (AUMF), which gave President George W. Bush’s administration a blank check for war after the September 11th attacks, still has not been repealed. On September 14, 2001, Representative Barbara Lee cast the sole vote in the House of Representatives against the AUMF resolution. “However difficult this vote may be, some of us must urge the use of restraint,” Lee declared on the House floor. “Our country is in a state of mourning. Some of us must say, let us step back for a moment. Let us just pause for a minute and think through the implications of our actions today so that this does not spiral out of control.” But very few representatives and senators contemplated what could go wrong if they voted for the resolution.
Twenty years after 9/11, the war on terror has remade the U.S. into a far more militarized actor, both around the world and at home. The human costs of this evolution are many — including mass incarceration, widespread surveillance, the violent repression of immigrant communities, and hundreds of thousands of lives lost to war and violence. But of course, this militarization also has financial costs too. Over 20 years, the U.S. has spent more than $21 trillion on militarization, surveillance, and repression — all in the name of security. These investments have shown us that the U.S. has the capacity and political will to invest in our biggest priorities. But the COVID-19 pandemic, the January 6 Capitol insurrection, wildfires raging in the West, and even the fall of Afghanistan have shown us that these investments cannot buy us safety.
When you imagine ending a war, do you imagine the U.S. President lamenting the human cost of the war’s financial expense while simultaneously demanding that Congress increase military spending — and while mentioning new wars that could potentially be launched? Do you picture him blowing up families with missiles from robot airplanes, and committing to continuing those “strikes” while maintaining that such things don’t constitute continuing the war? Did you hope that if the wars for freedom ever ended we might get our freedoms back, our rights to demonstrate restored, the Patriot Act repealed, the local police rid of their tanks and war weapons, the landscape stripped of all the cameras and metal detectors and bullet-proof glass that have grown up for two decades?
On August 16, 2021 President Biden addressed the nation to explain why the US military is pulling out of Afghanistan. To a lesser extent, he also tried to explain why the Afghan government and its 300,000 military forces imploded over the past weekend. With the Afghan State’s quick disappearing act, in a puff of smoke up went as well the more than $1 trillion spent by the US in Afghanistan since 2001. Biden glossed over the real answer to the first point why the US is now pulling out. The second he never really answered. The real answer to the first point is simple: the USA as global hegemon can no longer afford the financial cost of remaining in that country, so it is pulling out.
Imagine this scenario: A month before the vote on the federal budget, progressives in Congress declared, “We’ve studied President Biden’s proposed $753 billion military budget, an increase of $13 billion from Trump’s already inflated budget, and we can’t, in good conscience, support this.” Now that would be a show stopper, particularly if they added, “So we have decided to stand united, arm in arm, as a block of NO votes on any federal budget resolution that fails to reduce military spending by 10-30 percent. We stand united against a federal budget resolution that includes upwards of $30 billion for new nuclear weapons slated to ultimately cost nearly $2 trillion. We stand united in demanding the $50 billion earmarked to maintain all 800 overseas bases, including the new one under construction in Henoko, Okinawa, be reduced by a third because it’s time we scaled back on plans for global domination.”
New Haven, CT - At the direction of local musician Freddy B, New Haveners marked Earth Day by singing, clapping and waving posters to the chorus of the anti-war classic “Give Peace A Chance.” Freddy B (aka Freddy Brown) was among more than 30 people who gathered by the Amistad memorial outside City Hall late Thursday afternoon for a combined Earth/Peace Day celebration organized by the City of New Haven Peace Commission and Teen Climate Activists with help from New Haven Climate Movement, CT Climate Crisis Mobilization, Greater New Haven Peace Council, and New Haven Friends. The event united organizations that promote anti-gun violence, climate justice, and peace/antiwar causes. Earth/Peace Day also served as a public response to a non-binding referendum on the 2020 municipal election ballot...
Today, the Biden Administration released their budget proposal for Federal discretionary spending in Fiscal Year 2022. This included a proposal for a $753,000,000,000 Pentagon budget, an increase from President Trump’s final enacted budget. This signals a concerning continuity with the Trump Administration which, over the course of four years, increased the Pentagon budget by $133 billion with bipartisan Congressional approval. "Submitting a $753 billion Pentagon budget proposal during a historic pandemic while millions of working people across the country continue to struggle from the resulting economic turmoil is unconscionable," said CODEPINK national co-director and Divest from War campaign director Carley Towne.
The Pentagon recently asked Congress for an astronomical $27 billion budget increase to support a massive military buildup in Asia as part of its new Indo-Pacific plan, which calls for a substantially more aggressive military stance against China. With the US already ranking first in military spending worldwide and holding more than 290 military bases in the Asia-Pacific region alone, this aggressive buildup is being proposed at the most financially precarious moment in US history. According to the Congressional Budget Office report released this month, federal debt is projected to reach 102% of GDP by the end of 2021 before surpassing its historical high of 107% in 2031 and going on to nearly double to 202% by 2051. According to Doug Bandow, “Uncle Sam is headed toward insolvency.”
A coalition of more than 25 groups representing a range of political perspectives sent a letter Wednesday to key congressional committees with specific suggestions for slashing the Pentagon's budget by roughly $80 billion—savings that progressives say could be redirected from war to address pressing human needs. "Well-researched analysis from experts across the ideological spectrum show[s] that the Pentagon can dramatically reduce its spending, meet today's national security challenges, and continue supporting our troops and their families," the letter (pdf) reads.