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Cut the fat in the Pentagon budget

Posted by Catherine Thomasson, MD on February 19, 2013

Sequestration: The public hardly knows what this means, but everyone knows what across the board cuts mean and it isn’t very strategic.  While most agree that the deficit needs to be reduced, there is no agreement on how to cut the federal budget or whether raising revenue is the best answer.  We at PSR feel there is a strong need to cut the runaway Pentagon budget especially the nuclear weapons complex.

Unlike the pentagon budget which has increased dramatically since 2001 ($287 billion to $631 billion in the 2012 authorization bill), other federal services have been cut in the last decade.   The Pentagon budget is higher than during the Cold War, higher than during the Vietnam War and that is not including our huge war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Not only that, but the part of the budget that pays for many of the items you and I care about like public health, education, food safety, parks and forests have been cut so much that not only is there no fat to cut, but we are very close to the bone. 

Source: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

The Sequester will create automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion over 10 years.  This includes cuts of 2% to Medicare, though other programs are exempt such as social security, military pay, VA benefits and others.  Non-military discretionary cuts will be about 5% and military about 8%.

Cuts to Public Health funding would result in:

  • Tens of thousands of additional health care associated infections
  • Marked reduction in CDC supported climate adaptation planning
  • 2500 staff reduction in local health department staff trained in epidemiology
  • Loss of food safety inspectors and other enforcement officials for clean air and water.

While social security benefits are exempt, an estimated $900 million would be cut from Social Security Administration delaying all processing.  A report by the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University estimates that this will cost our economy more than 2 million jobs and cut the work force by $100 billion.

The sequester budgetary devise was created to hopefully bring forth a bipartisan solution to the deficit.  It was felt that Republicans and some democrats would be unwilling to make cross the board cuts to the Pentagon and that Democrats wouldn’t cut health and human services.  This is not happening, however, as Republicans while originally calling to exempt the Pentagon from the sequester realize that would be a pipe dream and that they may allow the cuts to go into force to allow the cuts they want in all other services while blaming the president.

Even so the sequester cuts would only bring the Pentagon budget down to 2006 levels.  What we need is surgical excision of serious over spending at the Pentagon and especially in the nuclear weapons complex.

It is time our policymakers hear from us that we want Pentagon cuts.  Special interests in many states and the huge military-industrial complex are filling their ears with doomsday reports.  It is important to remember that non-military governmental spending creates more jobs.  So let the cutting begin!

  • Cut the F-35 boondoggle plane
  • Cut aircraft carriers that aren’t needed.
  • Cut military bases in Europe
  • Representative Markey has introduced the SANE Act to reduce nuclear weapons complex spending over the next ten years by $100 billion while keeping up needed security systems to manage loose nuclear materials. 

The Mixed Oxide nuclear fuels production project is an example of the type of cuts PSR endorses, which had an estimated $1.7 billion budget but is now projected to be $6.8 billion. This project was a solution no one wanted and created new proliferation risks that are unacceptable. Another cut is the B-61 Life Extension nuclear weapon project for missiles deployed in Europe, which may all be recalled at some point anyway.  Representative Markey’s call for meaningful cuts in the nuclear weapons complex is a necessary step to reign in out of control spending.

Call your congressperson today!  They need to understand that the American public wants military cuts but not human service cuts.  Tell them to support at least $1 trillion in Pentagon cuts over the next 10 years. Write a Letter to your local Editor!  Call us if you have questions.   202-667-4260.

Source: Office of Management and Budget, Graph: Dylan Matthews


Catherine Thomasson said ..

Thanks for all the comments. One specific question was what can be cut. 1) F-35. 2) overseas bases 3) $31-$60 billion in waste and fraud Institute for Policy Studies released this report. Report issued in 10/12 outlines several specifics. Likewise FCNL has prractical solutions so you can tell your legislator some specifics: check out their options at

February 22, 2013
Martha W D Bushnell said ..

Significantly reduce nuclear program. Stop war as the way to treat people and nations. Instead use conflict resolution. Bring troops out of Europe, Okinawa, Colombia, Central America. Stop drug wars.

February 20, 2013
Kathryn Bourgoin,MD said ..

Before cutting social programs, the Pentagon budget needs to be cut.

February 20, 2013
Beryl Shahan said ..

Military spending should be directed to current needs and not used to bolster the reelection of Congressional members as is often the case.

February 20, 2013
Grace Adams said ..

Suspect half military budget is justified for national defense, fourth is about being the world's biggest bully, and fourth is pure pork. Even our own military leaders would rather green the nation's energy supply instead of buying military pork.

February 20, 2013
Bernard M. Aaron, M.D. said ..

We need less military spending and more spending for the downtrodden in this country!

February 20, 2013
Dale Patrick Patterson said ..

The budget for DOD is excessive and needless. We have more aircraft carriers then the rest of the world, combined. 8000 M1 Abrams tanks and the strongest armored personnel carriers on earth. Our air-fleets are the most advanced fleets and in spite of their age receive COMPLETE over hauls that make them as good as new . . . because once one of our aircraft leave a depot they are essentially new. On the matter of the US Navy operating only one aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, " I hope it can handle everything Iran throws at it, their fleet of 20 - 30 year old aircraft obviously is a major challenge to a relatively new ship with a complement of nearly 100 of the best carrier based jets in the world.

February 19, 2013
Doug said ..

Has all the world gone mad? Why do we need to spend so many of our resources on killing, killing and more killing? Does anyone anywhere still think that this makes us safer? Ha!

February 19, 2013
Evelyn McMullen said ..

Food safety inspections definitely cannot be cut; our national health depends on safe food and water, cut out the pipeline which contaminates our water supply and makes our land more vunerable to earthquakes.

February 19, 2013
Evelyn McMullen said ..

The personnnel pay & housing and somewhat the weapons/procurement look reasonable but everything else needs to be drastically cut.

February 19, 2013
Merritt Farren said ..

Your chart is difficult to understand and interpret. Do you have any specific recommendations for cuts?

February 19, 2013
John Renfrew said ..

At least you can make a start by eliminating unneeded programs that the Pentagon doesn't even want!

February 19, 2013
Anonymous said ..

Cut the dangerously bloated military budget before we collapse under its weight, like ancient militaristic Rome did.

February 19, 2013
William Raines said ..

Military spending has spiraled out of control. Cut the NON-ESSENTIALS

February 19, 2013

Comments closed.