Move the Money
The U.S. spends nearly as much on its military as all other countries combined -- at a time when critical domestic needs continue to be cut.
Budget Control Act caps (aka “Sequestration”) since 2011 have already deeply cut Federal support for education, food programs, housing, transportation, and green energy, and the new Republican majorities in Congress plan to make further cuts this year, including to Social Security and Medicaid, while preserving the caps. Yet reductions in unnecessary military spending could eventually, not in the short term, free up Federal funds for these human and social needs.
Flush the Slush Fund- Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)
The Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account is a Pentagon “slush fund” that allows military spending in excess of sequestration limits. A report on what exactly was spent from the OCO account is needed for transparency and to ensure that the account is used only for truly unforeseen items and not as a slush fund or way to circumvent the base budget caps.
In FY2016 the President is requesting $51 billion for OCO, including $42.5 billion for continuing U.S. operations in Afghanistan, $5.3 billion for operations against the Islamic state, and smaller amounts for Iraq, counterterrorism partnership, European Reassurance Initiative, and Ebola. The Republican majority’s budget resolution has increased planned OCO spending to $96 billion – far beyond what is needed for current U.S. wars.
Cut the F-35 “Budget Buster”
The most expensive weapons system in history, with a lifetime price tag of $1.5 trillion for 2,500 planes, and with nearly 70% in cost overruns since 2001: it’s time to cut this boondoggle. The FY2016 budget request of $11 billion would pay for 57 more planes to add to 120 already delivered and 100 in the production line.
The F-35 has performance problems, management problems, and cost problems. Its $80 billion in project cost overruns and waste is over 100 times the amount of taxpayer losses from the Solyndra solar energy project, Republican lawmakers’ example of choice when they decry the efficiencies of “big government. Sen. John McCain, chair of the Senate Armed Service Committee, has been a vocal critic of the F-35 in the past. A CBO study showed that the DoD could save $48 billion over 10 years by cancelling the F-35 program and purchasing existing models instead.
Reduce Nuclear Weapons and Delivery Systems
The Cold War is long in the past, yet the cost of maintaining and modernizing our nuclear weapons is expected to be $1 trillion over the next 30 years. The FY2016 budget includes (over 10 years) $80 billion for a new long range bomber, $90 billion for new nuclear submarines, $11 billion to refurbish the B-61 nuclear warhead, $30 billion for a new nuclear armed cruise missile, upgrades for land-based ICBMs, and money for new nuclear weapons production facilities. These weapons must never be used, and they make us less safe, by stimulating other nuclear powers to modernize their own weapons and by undermining our non-proliferation rhetoric. The SANE Act, sponsored by Sen. Markey and Rep. Blumenauer, (S.831/HR.1534) provides a legislative vehicle to cut many of these programs.