A GROWING CRESCENDO: MORE THAN 100 GROUPS TELL CONGRESS IT’S TIME TO REIN IN WASTEFUL PENTAGON SPENDING

clee February 12, 2013 1

A GROWING CRESCENDO: MORE THAN 100 GROUPS TELL CONGRESS IT’S TIME TO REIN IN WASTEFUL PENTAGON SPENDING 

Washington, D.C. — With a number of fiscal deadlines on the horizon, more than 100 national groups this week are telling Congress it is time to rein in wasteful Pentagon spending and rethink America’s priorities at home.

A broad coalition of labor, peace groups, religious denominations, environmentalists, online activists, feminists and anti-poverty and human needs advocates have signed on to a letter urging members of Congress to “ensure adequate funding to preserve the basic functions of government and real security for all of our people.”

“We view reining in wasteful Pentagon spending as a mandate,” states the letter, circulated by USAction, Coalition on Human Needs, the Pentagon Budget Campaign and NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. “We must stop paying for the things we don’t need so that we can afford to pay for the things we do need. This includes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and the Affordable Care Act. And it includes discretionary domestic programs such as Head Start, nutrition aid, job training, education and cancer screening, just to name a few.”

Note to representatives of the media: A copy of the letter to Congress and the 120 signees is appended below and also located here in full.

Alan Charney, USAction program director, said with the wind-down of the war in Iraq and planned 2014 of the withdrawal in Afghanistan, it simply makes sense that Pentagon expenditures should be reduced. Every time the U.S. has ended a war in the past century, including World War II, conflicts in Korea and Vietnam and the first war in Iraq, Pentagon spending was curtailed sharply, he noted.

“This is the broadest coalition of groups to call for reining in wasteful Pentagon spending in modern history,” he said. “More than 100 groups are demanding that we stop paying for the things we can’t afford so that we can pay for the things that are essential. We are calling for a fundamental restructuring of our priorities so that we can pay for programs that build a healthy and thriving middle class and chart a course for future prosperity for all Americans.”

“We can prevent cuts that would deny food, health care and education to millions of children, help workers find jobs, and prevent rising homelessness by reducing ground forces to pre-war levels and cutting our obsolete arsenal of nuclear programs,” said Deborah Weinstein, executive director, Coalition on Human Needs. “If we want to rebuild our economy and strengthen our security, we need to stop Pentagon waste.”

Release of the letter to Congress comes roughly two weeks before USAction affiliates and partners across the country will participate in a National Day of Action around the issue of Pentagon spending. “Pull the Pork at the Pentagon” events will take place in nearly two dozen states as part of an effort to urge Congress to rein in Pentagon waste, reduce the Pentagon budget by at least $50 billion to $100 billion a year and end corporate welfare for defense contractors and their CEOs.

Dear Members of Congress:

The undersigned organizations represent millions of Americans with a tremendous stake in the outcome of the ongoing budget process. As Congress debates the debt ceiling, automatic spending cuts and spending in 2013 and going forward, our organizations urge you to ensure adequate funding to preserve the basic functions of government and real security for all our people.

There are two paths toward accomplishing this goal and both must be followed. First, additional new revenues must be enacted. President Obama has identified at least $600 billion in new revenues if the wealthiest Americans are required to pay their fair share. We can raise more than $600 billion by closing tax loopholes for corporations, for the wealthiest 2 percent and for companies that outsource jobs overseas.

Second and just as important: we must rein in wasteful Pentagon spending. We believe Pentagon spending should be cut by a minimum of $500 billion to $550 billion over 10 years – similar to the automatic cuts to the Pentagon that go into effect beginning in March if Congress does not act (the “sequester”). We note that many military experts say cuts could be as high as $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion over the next decade without compromising national security.

Pentagon spending, which comprises more than half of the current discretionary budget, continues to absorb the lion’s share of the money Congress appropriates. Without more cuts to Pentagon spending, even very deep cuts to all other discretionary funding taken together will fall far short of alleviating deficit spending and the rising debt.

We view reining in wasteful Pentagon spending as a mandate. We must stop paying for the things we don’t need so that we can afford to pay for the things we do need. This includes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and the Affordable Care Act. And it includes discretionary domestic programs such as Head Start, nutrition aid, job training, education and cancer screening, just to name a few.

As a community of advocates, we are committed to creating good jobs here in America, providing our families with security and building a brighter future for our children.  If we invest some of the billions we spend on the Pentagon in other sectors of our economy, we would actually generate MORE jobs, strengthening the middle class and protecting essential services that help our families. Economists at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst found that public dollars invested in clean energy, health care, and education all create significantly more jobs within the U.S. economy than investing an equivalent amount in the military.** As we struggle with high unemployment rates across the nation, this is a critical point to consider.

We want a safe and secure nation. The safety of our residents is of utmost importance. Proposals to rein in wasteful Pentagon spending should not threaten that priority. But the Pentagon budget should not be immune from oversight and fiscal responsibility. Like any other department, the Pentagon must be held accountable for its spending and be able to prove that its programs are a responsible and worthwhile use of our limited tax dollars.

We believe budget decisions reflect our values, and we believe that we can responsibly pare down wasteful Pentagon spending without compromising our nation’s security. We can shift from spending on outdated, unnecessary weapons to investments in projects that keep us secure and help us prosper- first responders, teachers, bridges, roads, and rails. As you face some of the most difficult budgeting challenges in our nation’s history, we urge you to consider all the paths we must embark upon in order to achieve responsible investments at home.

Sincerely, 

9to5

Action for the Common Good

Advocacy for Justice and Peace Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Alliance for a Just Society

Alliance for Global Justice

Amalgamated Transit Union

American Friends Service Committee

American Voices Abroad Berlin

Americans for Democratic Action

Brake the Cycle of Poverty

Campaign for America’s Future

Campaign for Community Change

Caring Across Generations

Center for Conscience & War

Center for Effective Government

Center for International Policy

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Children’s Defense Fund

Cleric of St. Viator Provincial Council (Viatorians)

Coalition for Peace Action

Coalition of Labor Union Women

Coalition on Human Needs

CoffeePartyUSA.com

Collaborative Center for Justice

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS)

Common Cause

Community Action Partnership

Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Courage Campaign

CREDO Action

Democracy for America

Democratic Socialists of America

Demos

Disciples Justice Action Network

Documents International

Earth Peace

Education Equals Making Community Connections

Every Child Matters Education Fund

Families USA

Fellowship of Reconciliation

Feminist Majority

Foreign Policy In Focus

Franciscan Action Network

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Friends of the Earth

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Gray Panthers

Greenpeace

Historians Against War

Independent Living, Inc.

Jobs With Justice

Just Foreign Policy

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Leadership Council, Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Metropolitan Community Churches

Military Families Speak Out

MoveOn.org

NAACP

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Alliance of HUD Tenants

National Black Justice Coalition

National Council of Jewish Women

National Employment Law Project

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

National Health Care for the Homeless Council

National Immigration Law Center

National Jobs for All Coalition

National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty

National Low Income Housing Coalition

National Network of Abortion Funds

National Organization of Legal Services Workers, UAW Local 2320

National People’s Action

National Priorities Project

NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

New Priorities Network

No FEAR Coalition

Office for Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation Franciscan Friars (OFM) Holy Name Province

Office of Peace and Justice, Augustinians : Province of St. Thomas of Villanova

Peace Action

Peace Action West

Pentagon Budget Campaign

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Progressive Democrats of America (PDA)

Progressive USA

Progressives United

Promise the Children (Unitarian Universalist)

Raging Grannies

Rebuild the Dream

RootsAction.org

School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch)

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Sierra Club

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Institute Justice Team

Social Justice Ministry of Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Social Security Works

Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice

SumOfUs

The Global Justice Institute

The Shalom Center

U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

United Electrical Workers (UE)

United for a Fair Economy

United For Peace and Justice

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

United States Student Association

US Missionary Oblates, JPIC

US Peace Council

USAction

Veterans For Peace

Voices for Creative Nonviolence

Voices for Progress

VOTE MOB

War Resisters League

Wider Opportunities for Women

Win Without War

Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)
**The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: An Updated Analysis, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Department of Economics (December 2011)