Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bloated Military Budget Passes-- Here's One The GOP Didn't Filibuster


Thursday night, just before midnight, the Senate approved the Pentagon Budget 84-15. Disappointingly, only three Senate Democrats had the guts to vote NO, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden. In the video above, Bernie explains to his colleagues why had decided to vote against it. It's worth watching. The only Republicans who voted against it are just the regular extremists who oppose everything that Obama backs, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Tom Coburn, etc. In his speech Bernie quoted from President Eisenhower's "Cross of Iron" speech on April 16, 1953.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms in not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. 

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that come with this spring of 1953.
Sixty years later, the mess Eisenhower warned us about has only gotten worse-- much, much, much worse. And as Bernie told his colleagues, "At a time when the United States has a $17.2 trillion national debt and when we spend almost as much on defense as the rest of the world combined, the time is long overdue for us to take a hard look at the waste, cost overruns and financial mismanagement that have plagued the huge Defense Department for years. The situation is so absurd that the Pentagon is unable to even account for how it spends its money. Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office cited its inability to audit the Pentagon. They wrote that they were unable to do a comprehensive financial analysis due to ‘serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense that made its financial statements un-auditable.’ I support a strong defense system for our country and a robust National Guard and Reserve that can meet our domestic and foreign challenges. At a time, however, when the country has a $17.2 trillion national debt and is struggling with huge unmet needs, it is unacceptable that the Defense Department continues to waste massive amounts of money,” Sanders said.

Senator Merkley emphasized that his vote against the budget was primarily because of the funding it includes for continuing the occupation of Afghanistan. “The war in Afghanistan is now the longest war in American history and it’s long past time to bring our sons and daughters home," he said in a statement Friday morning a few hours after the late night roll call. "The administration is negotiating a pact with Afghanistan that would commit massive resources and thousands of troops to another decade in Afghanistan. I don’t think that makes sense, and I think the American people should be able to weigh in and Congress should vote before we proceed. A House provision requiring Congressional approval for another decade in Afghanistan was stripped from the Defense Authorization, and the Senate never had a chance to vote on my similar amendment. I voted no on the Defense Authorization because Congress needs to have a say before we extend our commitment in Afghanistan.”

I'm very proud that Merkley and Sanders did the right thing and voted against this monstrosity. Merkley is running for reelection this cycle and Sanders is keeping his options open for a presidential run if all the candidates running are, as widely expected, pathetic tools. The links on their names give you the opportunity to contribute to their respective campaigns.

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At 10:33 AM, Anonymous me said...

In all fairness, part of the reason that we're spending more on the military than other countries is that we're overpaying for a lot of stuff.


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