After years of gridlock and partisan rancor, the budget impasse may finally be broken. The President won increases in ‘non-defense’ spending as part of the deal, but the Pentagon will still gobble up more than 50% of the discretionary budget. Allowed to increase spending at this pace, the Pentagon can look forward to its first trillion-dollar budget a decade from now.
Peace Action opposes the planned increases in Pentagon spending to $548 billion in fiscal 2016 and $551 billion in fiscal 2017.
The agreement would also increase the Pentagon slush fund, the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund (OCO), which is not subject to the budget caps. The deal would allow about $16 billion more than President Obama requested bringing the total number of tax dollars at the Pentagon’s disposal to over $600 billion for fiscal 2016.
Holding our elected leaders accountable for their rubber stamp approach to war and weapons spending is the first step. With elections less than a year away, Peace Action is doing just that through our Peace Voter campaign. Here’s an example of that work, as Will Hopkins, Executive Director of New Hampshire Peace Action asks Hillary Clinton about her “close ties to elements within the military industrial complex” last month on the Today show.
Peace Action continues to work with our allies on Capitol Hill pressing Congress to cut funding for big ticket items like the F-35 and nuclear overkill. We are investing resources in our grassroots campaign to Move the Money from the Pentagon to meet the needs of our communities, working to build and strengthen local coalitions. Over the past three years we have conducted workshops in 10 states training local activists in the workings – inside and out – of military budgets. Presently, we are planning trainings in Florida and Oregon for 2016.
More money for high-tech weaponry and unending war means less for our communities and people in need and less invested in green technologies necessary to avert climate disaster. The federal budget is all about choices.
The federal budget represents our priorities as a nation and it should reflect our values. But powerful ideological forces and financial interests have hijacked the budget process for their own gain.
Martin Luther King Jr challenged us with the admonition, ‘those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.’
The political power required to bring democracy to decisions on federal budget priorities and foreign and military policies is not beyond us. We are more than capable and we will make it happen.