By SUZANNE DERSHOWITZ and ANGELA CANTERBURY
The financial crisis has forced many Americans to tighten their belts, but the Pentagon budget continues to grow unchecked. This week, the House is considering a defense appropriations bill (H.R. 5856) that proposes spending $3.1 billion more than the military requested, which is between $6 and $8 billion more than the current spending caps. But Representatives Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Barney Frank, (D-Mass.) are offering an amendment to freeze base Pentagon spending at current levels (Fiscal Year 2012 level of $518 billion).
Today POGO and 25 allies as ideologically diverse as CODEPINK and Tea Party WDC sent a letter to House Representatives urging them to stand by their commitments to pare down the bloated military budget, by supporting the Mulvaney-Frank Amendment and proposals for even deeper cuts. It’s not every day these organizations agree on legislative proposals, but that gives you an idea of just how broad the support is for reining in runaway Pentagon spending. At a time when federal spending is being slashed across the board, this amendment would reduce the Pentagon budget by a modest $1.1 billion—which would, at the very least, halt unnecessary acceleration.
We also support the cuts proposed by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) to bring the appropriations bill in line with the spending caps Congress already agreed to in last year’s Budget Control Act. The Lee Amendment #138, which has bipartisan support, would reduce the Pentagon budget by $7.6 billion.. But this isn’t even as far as most Americans would go. According to a recent Stimson Center study, the majority of Americans support much deeper cuts to the defense budget— by 18 percent or $103.5 billion.
In these tough economic times, taxpayers can no longer afford to continue bankrolling an ever-expanding Pentagon largess. The Mulvaney-Frank Amendment is a good starting place and represents a solid compromise both parties can agree on.
The bottom line: this is a sensible step for cutting defense budget waste, but more needs to be done. Congress should force the Pentagon to spend less and spend smarter. It’s time to scrap outmoded strategies for national security, cut Cold War era nuclear weapons programs, scale back spending on unnecessary weapons systems, and rein in the outlandish spending pushed by the big defense contractor lobbyists.