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Excerpt: "Bernie Sanders' common sense proposals for dealing with universal health care, college tuition, restoring the infrastructure, confronting poverty and more have encountered predictable scorn from 'fiscally responsible' corporatists. But nowhere do we find anyone willing to take on the biggest imperial welfare program of them all, the most obvious source of revenue for the programs needed to heal our nation: the military budget."

Bernie Sanders. (photo: Charlie Leight/Getty Images)
Bernie Sanders. (photo: Charlie Leight/Getty Images)


Why the Deafening Silence on Cutting the Military Budget?

By Harvey Wasserman, David Swanson and Bob Fitrakis, Reader Supported News

23 February 16

 

Watch Amy Goodman interview Harvey Wasserman on Democracy Now!

ernie Sanders’ common sense proposals for dealing with universal health care, college tuition, restoring the infrastructure, confronting poverty and more have encountered predictable scorn from “fiscally responsible” corporatists.

They all scream about the “deficit spending” and tax hikes that might be required to pay for these vital programs. From predictable right-wing corporatists to Hillary Clinton (“free stuff! free stuff!” she mocks) to fictional “left-leaning economists” invented by the New York Times, numerous voices scorn Bernie’s agenda because his proposals “cost too much.”

But nowhere do we find anyone willing to take on the biggest imperial welfare program of them all, the most obvious source of revenue for the programs needed to heal our nation: the military budget. If Sanders were willing to cut the military budget he’d encounter no criticism for raising taxes, because he’d have no need to raise taxes.  We hope that he’ll no longer pass up this opportunity to tell us how he would cut into a military budget that exceeds nearly all the rest of the world’s combined, and that largely has nothing to do with fighting terrorism (and so often makes it worse).

It’s not that Bernie doesn’t have a good answer for how he would pay for everything. He does, and it’s plenty clear and simple for an intelligent fourth grader, and possibly even Donald Trump, to grasp. But just try squeezing the following into a sound byte television response to “You want to raise my taxes!”

Bernie Sanders economic proposal. (photo: Worldbeyondwar.org)
Bernie Sanders economic proposal. (photo: Worldbeyondwar.org)

Even this lengthy list does not seem to straightforwardly explain that Medicare for All could raise your taxes, but would give you net savings as you dropped your health insurance payments.

For those who can get past sound bytes, Sanders’ proposals are good, and the taxes all needed for the sake of equitable sharing of wealth and power. But cutting the oceans of cash going to the armed forces is also needed for the purpose of slowing down the military industrial complex and its penchant for creating wars.

And there are projects that the United States and the world desperately need that aren’t listed above. Rather than more wars and occupations, the United States has a moral responsibility to begin a massive investment in actual humanitarian aid to the world, a world beginning to suffer from climate change driven more by the United States than any other nation, with the possible exception of the much, much larger nation of China.

The United States is currently extremely stingy in foreign aid by global standards, and a Marshall-Plan scale investment could work wonders in transforming world opinion about the U.S. government. A similar investment, much more than $100 billion per year, is needed in the United States for green energy. The possibility of creating a Solartopia is slipping away from us, while the cost of the Iraq war alone would have been enough to halt climate change.

Here are some simple, obvious ways to pay for all those programs Bernie advocates, and much much more:

  • There are various plans afoot to “upgrade” the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, with price tags in the range of $1,000,000,000,000 and more. Why don’t we just get rid of all of them and use the money to pay for much of the above?

  • There is talk of a replacement fleet of a dozen “Ohio Class” nuclear submarines at a (currently estimated) cost of up to $8,000,000,000 each (which is bound to soar), with construction to begin in 2021. These are perfectly designed to protect us from the Soviet Union, which no longer exists, and will do nothing except bankrupt us, making us more vulnerable to the likes of ISIS, which was created by our intervention in Iraq.

  • The United States currently maintains at least 900 bases outside its borders, with troops stationed in 175 foreign nations and waging or threating war in some of the handful of nations that do not have U.S. troops (Syria, Iran). The financial cost is over $100 billion a year. The bases, in many cases, generate an enormous amount of popular resentment and hatred, serving as motivations for attacks on the bases themselves or elsewhere — famously including the attacks of September 11, 2001. Why continue to pay for this?

  • The military spends millions every year advertising itself as a career opportunity, with fly-overs at football games, saturation TV spots, marching bands (the military is the nation’s leading employer of musicians) and more. In fact, it has an entrenched interest in keeping college tuitions high, as a key incentive for young people to enlist is to be able to afford tuition. Yet while the armed forces are heavily over-staffed, and recruitment ads for the National Guard depict the bringing of aid to natural disasters, the reality is that a major effort to aid those at home and abroad impacted by climate change or disasters like the methane gas leak at Port Ranch, California, doesn’t exist and would be a prime step toward guaranteeing a true global peace.

If the military were scaled back even a little, in the direction of a purely defensive operation, we could create such a modern civilian conservation corps and, among other things, put solar panels on the rooftops of every building on earth.

There is, of course, much more that could be done to cut the military budget and pay for what we really need.  The vast bulk of military expenditures today have nothing to do with fighting terrorism. In many cases, the clumsy bludgeonings of our over-stuffed military actually promote it.

Yet this kind of discussion has not yet made it into the mainstream. We look forward to either journalists or brave nonviolent event disruptors inserting this topic into the endless election coverage.



Originally published on World Beyond War.

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+30 # Crumbling Empire 2016-02-23 14:14
The above article, while a terrific one in that it highlights the biggest of the "destructive" US annual expenditures, does not discuss some of the other huge ancillary costs of maintaining a massive military.

ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS. Much of the "stratergy," as W would say, of the US military is protecting energy resources, principally oil. Oil production and use pollutes mightily, which increases cancer rates, destroys air quality, etc., none of which is factored in to the US military spending totals.

HUMAN COSTS. Maintaining such a military leads to killing, injury, population displacement, involuntary emigration from the war zones, involuntary immigration currently to the EU, all of which leads to societal destruction and strife, etc.

ARTIFICIAL PRICING. Spending trillions on a military to keep oil reserves secure artificially lowers the price at the gas pump. Without a military, the cost of drilling & pipeline sabotage, unsecure shipping transport, etc. would show up at the pump - I've seen figures in the U.S. $14/gallon range.

BERNIE. In many respects, part of the Establishment, which is why I'd choose Elizabeth Warren or Dennis Kucinich instead, not sure how Jon Huntsman would play out, but I'd certainly give him a chance, and Daddy Ron Paul and fellow Libertarian Gary Johnson also have attractive traits, especially with respect to international entanglements and military spending.

Bernie, obviously, is the best by far of the current candidates, however.
 
 
+18 # DaveEwoldt 2016-02-23 22:43
Yeah, I can't find much to argue about with the Libertarian's stance on empire. The big problem is the fanatical adherence to free-market fundamentalism, which is a root cause of empire. I mean, if you gotta grow continuously, which means ever increasing producers, consumers and the attendant stuff, then pretty soon your own resource base is going to be stripped bare, so you have to go steal someone else's. The reason theft is required is because those other people would rather keep their resources for themselves. That's what empire has always been about, Industrialism and its penchant for economic cannibalism ... err, capitalism... just puts the whole process on steroids. Pretty simple and straightforward , really.
 
 
+38 # RMDC 2016-02-23 15:42
I think Sanders is lying low on the issue of military cutting. He would provoke a real fire storm if he were to say openly that he wanted to transfer billions of dollars from the pentagon and its weapons makers over to social program and infrastructure rebuilding. The professional politicians would be squealing like stuck pigs.

But any 4th grader can understand this as Wasserman says. Even Trump gets it. But the powerful political forces and the huge money forces are behind the pentagon and the war machine. Better not get them worked up any more than they already are.
 
 
+5 # Crebbafrabitz 2016-02-23 16:25
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9PswnZs6MQ
 
 
+1 # newell 2016-02-24 08:41
Thanx for reading between the lines. If you are being fed to the lions, it is better to look like a lion--until you are in a place to do something about it.
 
 
0 # Crumbling Empire 2016-02-24 15:36
Quoting RMDC:
I think Sanders is lying low on the issue of military cutting. He would provoke a real fire storm if he were to say openly that he wanted to transfer billions of dollars from the pentagon and its weapons makers over to social program and infrastructure rebuilding.


RMDC: I agree with your premise, but how about this???

DEBT. What if instead of Bernie transferring military tax dollars to social and infrastructure programs, he stated he would work to apply such dollars to reducing our $18.4 trillion debt?

INFLATION. The massive current debt forces the Fed intentional to weaken the US dollar, to "inflate" the real amount of debt down, which policy is incredibly harmful to Americans, and promotes silly spending by the public, before their dollars depreciate too much, as opposed to smart saving.

TREASURIES HELD BY FOREIGNERS. Also, owing $1 trillion plus to the Chinese and another $1 trillion plus to the Japanese seriously undermines our economic negotiating positions with them, as they both could flood the market by selling US Treasuries they hold, which would send us spiraling into a Depression.
 
 
+44 # CL38 2016-02-23 16:12
"We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–indust rial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960
 
 
+19 # Underledge 2016-02-23 19:15
It is unfortunate that few if any paid any attention to this.
 
 
+24 # Crebbafrabitz 2016-02-23 16:25
Dear article writer(s):
Bernie HAS talked about cutting the bloated military budget. Why the hell didn't you look before you started typing???!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9PswnZs6MQ
 
 
0 # randrjwr 2016-02-24 10:50
Quoting Crebbafrabitz:
Dear article writer(s):
Bernie HAS talked about cutting the bloated military budget. Why the hell didn't you look before you started typing???!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9PswnZs6MQ


I just watched it; thanks. I had not been aware of this piece.
 
 
+28 # Doc Mary 2016-02-23 18:21
In one of the debates Bernie noted (to wild applause) that 90% of our military budget is devoted to stopping an attack by the Soviet Union, whereas only 10% goes to anti-terrorism. He said (with his usual dry understatement) that seemed a bit out-dated.
 
 
+12 # Anonymot 2016-02-23 18:33
When Germany prepared to conquer the world they put their entire bankroll on the red square War and came up ashes.
 
 
0 # Crumbling Empire 2016-02-24 16:06
Quoting Anonymot:
When Germany prepared to conquer the world they put their entire bankroll on the red square War and came up ashes.


I don't think I understand your post, ANONYMOT, but my reading on the Nazis vs. the Soviets stated that Germany did not transition to a total war economy until sometime during 1943, when Albert Speer became heavily involved.

Prior to that, most German women were not part of the war effort, and much of Germany's bankroll was not directed at the war, but instead on production for domestic goods and services.
 
 
+11 # ericlipps 2016-02-23 18:34
Of course that 90% has been repurposed, just as the huge military budgets of World War II were repurposed to fight our former ally. You'll never get real political support for actually drastically cutting such expenditures until the people themselves no longer feel afraid of Those People outside our borders. Just how strong that feeling is can be seen in the fact that Donald Trump's hate-based campaign has millions of cheering supporters.
 
 
+27 # PABLO DIABLO 2016-02-23 18:54
A bloated military budget = a sign of an empire in decline.
Gotta keep the war machine well fed so it can buy politicians who promote war, I.E. Hillary Clinton.
WAKE UP AMERICA.
 
 
+24 # chaucer2 2016-02-23 18:56
Finally, finally it is out in the open that Bush took us into Iraq on his own whim and totally destabilized the middle East...but no one mentions that HE DECLARED WAR, not congress.....A WAR HE DID NOT even think to pay for...not only in cost of lives...but the cost to the United States...we are even now paying for Bush's war....and no one wants to raise the taxes to do so!!!!!
 
 
+21 # jazzman633 2016-02-23 19:16
It's out in the open? So why does that smirking fool still walk free instead of facing a firing squad (with Cheney and all the rest of the chickenhawks)?
 
 
+3 # randrjwr 2016-02-24 10:58
Quoting jazzman633:
It's out in the open? So why does that smirking fool still walk free instead of facing a firing squad (with Cheney and all the rest of the chickenhawks)?


I couldn't agree more. But, hey, we have a history of honoring war criminals, not punishing them. This includes Nixon and Kissinger, with their cynical extension of the Viet Nam war in 1968 for purely political purposes and Andrew Jackson and his generals with their genocide of the Native Americans. Jackson failed in his avowed purpose of exterminating the Indians, but not by much. Shameful, to say the least.
 
 
-1 # Crumbling Empire 2016-02-24 16:10
Quoting chaucer2:
Finally, finally it is out in the open that Bush took us into Iraq on his own whim and totally destabilized the middle East...but no one mentions that HE DECLARED WAR, not congress.....A WAR HE DID NOT even think to pay for...not only in cost of lives...but the cost to the United States...we are even now paying for Bush's war....and no one wants to raise the taxes to do so!!!!!


CHAUCER: I don't think it's accurate simply to blame the Cheney Regime for the Iraqi invasion.

CONGRESS chose to authorize the continued use of military force, Congress chose to fund the invasion and subsequent occupation, and the American people continued to elect Congressmembers who did the foregoing.

PEOPLE: Ultimately, the fault lies with the American people, but I also believe Cheney, Rumsfeld, Yoo, W. and the Neoconservative s are guilty of war crimes and of bankrupting the American Empire exponentially beyond what Reagan and Clinton did.
 
 
+26 # DaveEwoldt 2016-02-23 18:59
Oh, c'mon. You guys are all smart enough to realize that if Bernie directly attacked the military budget at this point in the nominating process his campaign would come to a screeching halt.

Bernie's overall background and stance on other issues doesn't leave much doubt in my mind which way he'll go on the empire budget.
 
 
+10 # margpark 2016-02-23 19:02
I think the fact that the Republicans keep accusing President Obama of short-changing the military, even though, of course congress is in charge of the budget, makes saying the military will be cut would be dangerous. Truly we want a Democrat to win this election, and preferably Bernie Sanders. For Bernie to say we will take money from the military might end his chances.
 
 
+23 # reiverpacific 2016-02-23 19:12
Talk about "Sacred Cows" -the Military and support for Israel's murderous LIKUD regime, the two "untouchables"!
Sen' Sanders must know that the US military is bloated already -bigger than the next (8 to 16 depending on the source) countries COMBINED and has the biggest Nuclear arsenal by far on the planet.
I have a feeling that if he even TRIED to puncture both of these sacred, over-inflated balloons, he'd meet with an "accident", like all prominent peace-seekers before him.
Meanwhile, the nation's infrastructure continues to deteriorate and crumble although upgrading would create millions of jobs nationwide from Professional to Labor, further education remains the domain of the wealthy and Universal Healthcare is still a dream
This is why the US of Armaments' death-culture has never made it into the "Civilized" category and is the biggest threat to peace and inter-cultural cooperation globally.
 
 
+9 # jazzman633 2016-02-23 19:14
You want to hear the argument for a vastly reduced military budget? Ask a libertarian. "America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy" is as rational a foreign policy as it was when James Madison said it. But you will never hear that from any but a libertarian politician, and such views will not be given public hearing, so the perpetual-war machine will grind on. Do we really need 35,000 troops defending South Korea?
 
 
+11 # reiverpacific 2016-02-23 19:45
Quoting jazzman633:
You want to hear the argument for a vastly reduced military budget? Ask a libertarian. "America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy" is as rational a foreign policy as it was when James Madison said it. But you will never hear that from any but a libertarian politician, and such views will not be given public hearing, so the perpetual-war machine will grind on. Do we really need 35,000 troops defending South Korea?


America IS the "Monster" -it goes abroad at any-or no excuse, to destroy, plunder and impose "Pax Americana" or destruction on whomsoever it seeks to devour!
James Madison didn't have life-on-earth destroying, deeply polluting, armageddon-maki ng weapons and could not have imagined them.
 
 
# Guest 2016-02-24 11:18
This comment has been deleted by Administrator
 
 
+1 # reiverpacific 2016-02-24 16:00
Quoting Phil Proctor:
True, Madison didn't have nukes. But he, and the genocidal maniacs that followed him, had weaponized smallpox and alcohol. Point made. Done.


True enough -and breech-loading rifles.
The main thing is they, like Hitler "Wanted space" as in the whole country and tried to exterminate any tribe in their way.
As Oglala Chief Red Cloud (Makhpia-sha) once said The Wasicu made us many promises, more than I can ever remember, but they only kept but one; they told us that they would take our land -and they took it!".
Over and out to you too.
 
 
0 # Crumbling Empire 2016-02-24 16:13
Quoting Phil Proctor:
True, Madison didn't have nukes. But he, and the genocidal maniacs that followed him, had weaponized smallpox and alcohol. Point made. Done.


PHIL: You forgot those terrifying wigs they wore....
 
 
+4 # DaveEwoldt 2016-02-23 21:43
Just for the sake of accuracy, the Green Party platform goes a bit further than the Libertarian one does on this issue (although that might be splitting hairs) and they take every opportunity they get to say so.
 
 
# Guest 2016-02-23 23:09
This comment has been deleted by Administrator
 
 
+2 # Crumbling Empire 2016-02-24 16:17
Quoting George Tirebiter:
We damn well do need troops in South Korea. As ex-military I can tell you it gets really boring when you are stationed stateside for years at a time....I spent four glorious years there getting drunk and laid on a nightly basis.


GEORGE: Glad you enjoyed yourself in South Korea and I know you are mocking the stated political reasons for our military, but on a serious note I for one don't want to pay for your pleasures with my tax dollars (and I'll bet you don't want me to, since you sound extremely reasonable), and my country, with its $18.4 trillion debt, crumbling infrastructure, sub-par educational system, ridiculous health care system that kills and bankrupts people and polluting ways that kills internationally , simply cannot afford your exploits.

If South Korea wants to pay us IN FULL for our military presence there, that would be a different story.
 
 
# Guest 2016-02-27 10:46
This comment has been deleted by Administrator
 
 
0 # Crumbling Empire 2016-02-29 13:00
Quoting George Tirebiter:
But to your point Crumb. Yes, the military costs beaucoup bucks, but we are worth every penny...


GEORGE: To me, what the military is "worth" is irrelevant when we have an $18.4 trillion debt, a 15% poverty rate, people going bankrupt from health care costs, and the hidden "subsidy" the military grants to fossil fuels, because such massive cost does not show up at the pump, it simply adds to our debt, harming research and development of renewable energies, and more.

Additionally, a vast military presence, in addition to bankrupting Empire, leads directly to blowback, like 9/11, IMO.

I would appreciate a DEFENSIVE military, not an imperialistic, dictator-suppor ting invading one.

Finally, a military DESTROYS. It produces nothing of value, like infrastructure does by spurring the economy, making the transfer of goods and labor more efficient. We build hellfire missiles, and they destroy their targets, plus themselves, leaving us with holes in the ground. Accordingly, I believe the military in general should be minimized, especially when we have 5,000 nuclear weapons as a deterrence.

Thanks for your opinions.
 
 
# Guest 2016-03-01 12:54
This comment has been deleted by Administrator
 
 
+6 # Mainiac 2016-02-23 19:38
I wish David Swanson, and now Wasserman and Fitrakis, would stop carping on this point. As someone has already pointed out, Bernie has said that he would cut the military budget. He has a long enough list as it is. So Swanson, get with it and help Bernie get elected. Then you can write your next book.
 
 
+15 # reiverpacific 2016-02-23 20:18
BTW, the term "Common sense" as applied to US politics, is a total oxymoron.
Bernie is the closest it gets.
 
 
+11 # futhark 2016-02-23 20:26
Accepting Marine General Smedley D. Butler's easily demonstrable premise that War Is A Racket, one can hardly expect either the racketeers or those that benefit directly or indirectly from their machinations to raise objections to this ongoing scam. However, the facts and figures do not lie. The bloated military budget is a major destabilizing factor in the American economy and contributes to the abusive exercise of military force that has come to characterize American foreign relations.
 
 
# Guest 2016-02-23 21:58
This comment has been deleted by Administrator
 
 
-24 # Shades of gray matter 2016-02-23 22:03
Trump, of all people, spoke out against ripoff Pentagon contractors.
If Bernie can't pay for all that pie from his own pocket, he should stop misleading people about receiving it. Pandering. Manipulative. Exploitive. Dishonest. Violates trust. Stick to what you can deliver, AFTER you get politically nuked for your "socialism."
 
 
+6 # newell 2016-02-24 09:02
The public is quickly learning that Eisenhower was more of a socialist that Bernie is. He supported unions, warned of an industrial military and had an income tax rate of 92%.
 
 
+1 # kalpal 2016-02-24 10:11
How about you get Trump to agree to pay out of his pocket for every government expense? If that is too much can he pay for his wall with Mexico out of pocket and then bill them. He can sue if they don't pay in a timely fashion.
 
 
0 # Crumbling Empire 2016-02-24 16:31
Quoting Shades of gray matter:
Trump, of all people, spoke out against ripoff Pentagon contractors.
If Bernie can't pay for all that pie from his own pocket, he should stop misleading people about receiving it. Pandering. Manipulative. Exploitive. Dishonest. Violates trust. Stick to what you can deliver, AFTER you get politically nuked for your "socialism."


GRAY: Trump says whatever populist jargon he thinks will get him cheers and votes. He's against Wall Street, yet heavily invested in it. He wants the rapist Mexicans to pay for the border wall we're going to build, but last night explained in Nevada that "I love hispanics!!!"

I AM THE GREATEST. The Donald is nothing more than a disingenuous opportunist, a Goebbels propagandizing liar and an insecure narcissistic egomaniac.

TRUMP TO THE WHITE HOUSE. All that said, I've written here before, I hope Trump wins the Presidency, (i) because I don't think Bernie even can win the DNC nomination, let alone 1600 Pennsylvania, and (ii) because Trump will so embarrass America that with him lies our best chance of significant political reform, a cleaning out of Congress and a reversal of CITIZENS UNITED.
 
 
+10 # tpmco 2016-02-23 22:45
I don't see any item which raises income taxes, but I do see some potential deficit reduction.

Let's see Hillary put up a similar analysis for her >>many issues.
 
 
+11 # lfeuille 2016-02-24 00:32
His healthcare plan raises income taxes but lowers overall health care expenses. It is a good trade off.
 
 
+9 # mwlaird 2016-02-24 06:58
Actually, Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for US President, is talking a great deal about this. I'm supporting Bernie for the same reason some of my friends say they are supporting Hillary - because I'm going with someone who might actually get elected.
Ideally, we elect Bernie and then demonstrate that he needs to be more left than he currently is by using arguments like Stein's (and the article above)
 
 
+1 # Activista 2016-02-24 14:06
Present military budget/waste is NUMBER one CRITICAL (Detrimental?) issue to US system. But nobody is sane enough to critique. This is the essence of our oligarchy - military industrial complex.
 
 
+1 # Activista 2016-02-24 20:43
www.salon.com/2016/02/24/robert_reich_2016_is_the_beginning_of_the_end_of_the_establishment_partner/
Robert Reich: The establishment is dying -
not specifically about military - but great change right now - is this a revolution? Hope so.
 

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