“China to Have 1,500 Nuclear Warheads by 2035: Pentagon.” That was the headline at ABC News on November 29, the day the Department of Defense released the 2022 edition of its annual report on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” also called the China Military Power report. The Pentagon’s claim that China’s nuclear stockpile would jump from some 400 warheads today to an estimated 1,500 in 2035 was widely reported in the popular media and seized upon by military hawks in Congress to clamor for increased military spending. During the first two weeks of December, the House and Senate authorized a fiscal year 2023 Pentagon Budget of $858 billion—some $45 billion more than President Biden requested, with most of the added funds earmarked for weaponry to counter China.“China to Have 1,500 Nuclear Warheads by 2035: Pentagon.” That was the headline at ABC News on November 29, the day the Department of Defense released the 2022 edition of its annual report on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” also called the China Military Power report. The Pentagon’s claim that China’s nuclear stockpile would jump from some 400 warheads today to an estimated 1,500 in 2035 was widely reported in the popular media and seized upon by military hawks in Congress to clamor for increased military spending. During the first two weeks of December, the House and Senate authorized a fiscal year 2023 Pentagon Budget of $858 billion—some $45 billion more than President Biden requested, with most of the added funds earmarked for weaponry to counter China.
As Congress delivers nearly a trillion dollars for military spending through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in fiscal year 2023, one of the country’s most vulnerable sectors is in the midst of financial turmoil, with lingering effects across the country’s workforce. Within the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed in March 2021, a mere $39 billion was allocated towards child care relief funding, an amount proven to not be enough with funds already drying up. The shortage of money sets up a house-of-cards style effect on child care and the workforce as a whole. With the onset of the funds, “teachers at the [child care] center have gotten a more than 40% pay bump over the past two years, from $14 an hour before the pandemic to $20 an hour now,” reports Bloomberg.
Draft text of the congressional omnibus spending bill released this week reveals a proposed $25 million increase in funding to the National Labor Relations Board, which would bring the agency’s 2023 federal fiscal year budget to $299 million. Its funding has otherwise been frozen at $274 million for the past nine years; when inflation is taken into account, this effectively amounts to a budget decrease of 25% since 2014, according to calculations cited in an NLRB news release. The proposed hike is well below what leaders from unions like Communications Workers of America and Unite Here have been calling for, and falls short of the (already meager) $319 million President Joe Biden requested. Any failure to robustly fund the NLRB hurts workers’ attempts to win formal union recognition and protect their basic rights, a key reason why anti-union lawmakers have kept the NLRB’s budget slim.
The Pentagon – the U.S. “Defense” Department – was just audited for the fifth time. And they just announced they failed for the fifth time. If that’s not accountability, I don’t know what is! When I say they “failed” their audit, I don’t mean they put a 9 instead of a 7 on one of the balance sheets, causing two soldiers to get accidentally left in Antarctica freezing their asses off. I mean, they really failed their audit. As The Hill put it, “The Defense Department has failed its fifth-ever audit, unable to account for more than half of its assets, but the—” Hold up. Hold up. Did ya catch that? They can’t account for over half their assets! This is the largest murder machine on the planet – nearly a trillion dollars spent every year – and they don’t know where half their shit is?! How is this not criminal?
A recent poll conducted by the Quincy Institute found that 57% of likely voters strongly or somewhat support the US pursuing diplomatic negotiations as soon as possible to end the war in Ukraine, even if it requires Ukraine making compromises with Russia. Despite relentless pro-war propaganda, a majority of Americans are not on board with their government’s strategy of pouring endless weapons into Ukraine’s war with its nuclear-armed neighbor and hoping for the best. They are concerned about the costs of this war – more than 60 billion taxpayer dollars have already been spent, with much of that money filling the coffers of U.S. arms manufacturers. Americans are also concerned about the growing risk of nuclear Armageddon.
Young Americans appear highly skeptical of Washington’s ability to improve the world through military force, according to a new poll from the Eurasia Group Foundation (EGF). A majority of respondents aged 18 to 29 told pollsters that the United States should cut its military budget, end arms sales to Israel and Saudi Arabia, and emphasize diplomacy over other tools when engaging with the world. Zuri Linetsky, a research fellow at EGF, argued that youth respondents have likely been formed by the failures of recent U.S. military policies. “If you are 29 right now, you came of voting age towards the end of the Obama years,” Linetsky said. “You saw the Iraq surge. […] You’ve seen pushes in Afghanistan that haven’t worked. You’ve just seen the limits of American power.”
Pentagon contractors operating in Afghanistan over the past two decades raked in nearly $108 billion—funds that "were distributed and spent with a significant lack of transparency," according to a report published Tuesday. "These contracts show the shadowy 'camo economy' at work in Afghanistan," said report author Heidi Peltier, director of programs for the Costs of War Project at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. "Military contracting obscures where and how taxpayer money flows, who profits, and how much is lost to waste, fraud, and abuse," she added. "It also makes it difficult to know how many people are employed, injured, and killed through military contracting."
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.