While the US administration labours to squeeze a now-much-reduced social-spending plan through Congress, on 17 November the Senate voted by a big bipartisan majority to expedite procedure on a huge military budget. That budget has already gone through the House of Representatives by a big majority, with Cori Bush, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others from the “squad” voting against. In the Senate, Bernie Sanders spoke out against the budget and for at least a reduction.
Day after day, here on the floor and back in their states, many of my colleagues tell the American people how deeply concerned they are about the deficit and the national debt.
They tell us that we just don’t have enough money to expand Medicare to cover dental care, eyeglasses and hearing aids; we can’t guarantee paid family and medical leave; we can’t provide two years of free community college; and we can’t build the amount of affordable housing the country desperately needs; or address the climate crisis to the degree that we should if we want to protect the well-being of future generations.
Yet, today, the Senate will begin consideration of an annual defence budget that costs $778 billion — $37 billion more than President Trump’s last defence budget and $25 billion more than what President Biden requested.
Meanwhile, Congress has spent month after month discussing the Build Back Better Act, which on an annual basis costs far less than the Pentagon budget, and whether we can afford to protect the working families of our country, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor, and the future of our planet.
If there was ever a moment in American history when we needed to fundamentally alter our national priorities, now is that time.
But instead of addressing the major issues that impact the working families of our country, Congress comes together, Democrats and Republicans, with minimal debate to support an exploding Pentagon budget which is now higher than the next 13 nations combined, and represents more than half of our discretionary spending...
The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan concluded in 2011 that $31-$60 billion spent in Iraq and Afghanistan had been lost to fraud and waste.
Separately, in 2015, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction reported that the Pentagon could not account for $45 billion in funding for reconstruction projects...
In 1967, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. warned us that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defence than on programmes of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”.
The time is long overdue to listen to Dr King.
At a time when, in the richest country in the history of the world, half of our people are struggling paycheck to paycheck, when close to 40 million Americans are living in poverty, and when over 500,000 Americans are homeless, we are approaching spiritual death.