The Battle of the U.S. Military Budget
BY: Elizabeth Buerkle
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, other forms of national security have been put to the test, this past July in the form of a proposed 10% budget cut to the Department of Defense by Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator claimed “...national security is not just building bombs, missiles, jet fighters, tanks, submarines, nuclear warheads and other weapons of mass destruction.” and the spared funds could be relocated to things such as environmental protection and public education. It was swiftly voted down 324 to 93, with 139 of the votes against it being democrats and the rest being filled by all republican representatives.
Continuing on, a new bill was introduced to increase spending by nearly 100 billion to a new 740.5 billion, and has since been passed for the 2021 budget. Many claimed it was outside of fiscal reason, however, the President stated “There is no budget when it comes to our military.”The effort to defund the military has been a long-standing conflict within congress, however some question why that is. To answer that, here’s an in-depth look into where the U.S. stands with the Department of Defense spending.
The U.S. military budget exceeds the next 11 countries combined; even chopping spending in half would keep it in the #1 spot. This amount accounts for the payment of 3 million personnel with 800 defense sites across the planet in over 70 different countries, including places like Honduras or Iraq where their own governments have rejected having permanent U.S. occupation within their borders. To put that into perspective, Britain, France, and Russia have about 30 foreign bases combined. Not to mention there are no foreign bases within our own country.
Examples of where the funds could be redistributed could be solving the homelessness crisis, which would cost 20 billion (2.7% of the budget). Free college tuition would be 79 billion a year (10.6% of the budget). Bringing every single American citizen up to the poverty line would cost 175.3 billion (23.6% of the budget). Hunger across the entire planet could be solved with 30 billion a year (4.05% of the budget). Furthermore, the money that went into inflating the budget this past year was proposed to come from programs such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for Arts, National Endowment for Humanities, Health and Human Services, and the Labor Department. All programs that provide benefits similar to those given to military personnel, just without the uniform.
It could be argued that only a fraction of the current people enrolled in the ranks would join and remain without the insurance and education benefits that come with entering the military, benefits progressives are battling to provide to every American. It is no coincidence that recruiters tend to focus on marginalized groups and poorer communities; they know these people don’t have many other options, and thus bring them in with the promise of financial support. Removing the necessity to join the military in order to obtain basic amenities like healthcare and education could solve the issue officials complain about of men and women in uniform being crammed into workspaces too small for their numbers; simply minimize the amount of people that need to join.
It has already been answered by American people that people want to cut the Pentagon’s budget, those responses remaining the same regardless of partisanship, and considering the circumstances the country faces today, there’s no better time than in the midst of a pandemic to shift the balance so that the Department of Defense doesn’t have a budget 90 times that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio made the argument that the military is meant to protect the U.S. from threats of every nature, however, no amount of bullets can feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, or educate the youth.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
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