Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

To Cut the Deficit, Cut Military Spending

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

To Cut the Deficit, Cut Military Spending

Article excerpt

IT'S THE LARGEST federal budget in history. President Obama's 2011 budget totals $3.8 trillion and contains a deficit of S1.3 trillion. The president's priorities are clear: jobs and the military. Many people are deeply concerned about the rapidly growing deficit.

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With the economy still in recession and unemployment still hovering near 10 percent, the domestic priority is clearly job creation. The budget includes a $100 billion jobs program, with substantial amounts targeted to tax breaks for small businesses in order to stimulate job creation. Also included are tax credits that assist lower-income workers with expenses such as child care, which make it more possible for them to find employment.

Despite the administration's plan to enact an overall freeze on nonmilitary discretionary domes tic spending, it appears that several programs that focus on low-income and poor people were increased. Bob Greenstein of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities noted, "Contrary to fears expressed ... that the president's proposed freeze on total non-security discretionary funding would provide inadequate support for education, for vulnerable Americans, and the like, the budget actually does well in these areas." It appears that major programs in nutrition, housing, education, TANF, and unemployment are all higher than last year.

But, as usual, the sacred cow that cannot be touched is the military. First, a thanks to the administration for having the honesty to include the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the budget, rather than waiting several months and then coming back with requests for supplemental funding, as has been the practice in past years. Let's at least know up front what we're dealing with.

In round numbers, the military budget includes an operating budget of $549 billion, plus funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at $159 billion, for a total of $708 billion--making it the largest military budget in history. In addition, the administration plans to request $33 billion for the additional troops sent to Afghanistan this spring, for an 18-month total of $741 billion.

Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, and several other defense experts wrote, 'A close analysis of the FY 2011 defense budget reveals that it does not go far enough to impose real fiscal discipline on our defense spending ... There are a number of reasonable cuts that could be made to this portion of the budget without sacrificing national security or undermining our troops. …

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