No Defense for This Budget

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By Katrina vanden Heuvel The Nation

Deficit hysteria has reached new levels, yet where is the attention to an out of control defense budget that is now the largest since World War II? While the Obama Admistration’s three-year freeze on discretionary spending is a bad idea, it’s made even worse because unprecedented Pentagon spending is exempted from it.

Who would know from all of the whining about budget deficits that military spending is the largest discretionary item in the federal government? Exempting all security-related expenditures from common sense cuts will have serious consequences for almost everything the government does–from job creation, poverty reduction and alternative energy development, to aid for cash-strapped state and local governments. In fact, the Economic Policy Institute reports that non-security-related discretionary spending is already at near-historic lows as a share of GDP. At a time when foreclosures are still rising, and we face double-digit unemployment, this freeze will make digging out from the Great Recession more difficult.

On Monday, the Obama Administration requested $708 billion for the Defense Department next year–including $549 billion for its base budget and $159 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This doesn’t even include the $33 billion supplement the White House will request for its escalation in Afghanistan this year.

Just last week, Representative Barney Frank reissued his call for military cuts–a call he originally made nearly a year ago in a piece for the Nation in which he wrote, “If we do not make reductions approximating 25 percent of the military budget starting fairly soon, it will be impossible to continue to fund an adequate level of domestic activity even with a repeal of Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.” Frank’s prescient advice received little attention from the media at that time. Not surprisingly, it’s once again failed to get the attention it deserves from the mainstream press.

Read more at The Nation

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