Where to Find Deficit Reductions?
October 4, 2011
Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) has been working for thirty years to redirect excessive military spending to unmet human and environmental needs. Now as Washington takes aim at deficit reduction, lawmakers are targeting vital programs that sustain America. What is not being scrutinized for spending cuts? The Pentagon budget that makes up over half of annual discretionary spending. This is not fair, and not effective. Worse, much of the unchecked Pentagon spending is directed at last-century strategies, leaving us vulnerable as we fail to address 21st century security needs. Pentagon spending discipline is needed to contribute to deficit reduction and to maintain our nation’s strength and security. We have some ideas about where specific cuts could be made. Here are three examples.
- Stop Sinking Dollars into Nuclear Submarines:
News flash – the Cold War is over. Yet, twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, the United States plans to spend an estimated $700 billion on nuclear weapons and related costs in the coming decade. There are now about 5,000 nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal deliverable by land, air and sea, including 12 nuclear submarines that are out cruising the world’s oceans at any given time. With each one carrying multiple nuclear warheads, a single submarine is capable of destroying all major cities in Russia and China. The plan is to replace the submarine fleet, maintaining this overkill capability into the middle of the next century at a lifecycle cost of nearly $350 billion..
- Stop Amassing Huge Armed Forces Abroad and Cut Contractors:
Since 9/11 troop levels have increased by 118,500 soldiers and marines. The Bush Administration agreed with the Iraqi government to withdraw all U.S troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. The Obama Administration promised to complete the withdrawal of all U.S. armed forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. These pledges should be fulfilled. As we are getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan it is time to cut the size of ground forces. Further, do we really need to maintain the 80,000 active-duty personnel stationed in Europe? Not all personnel costs come from men and women in uniform -- a staggering amount of Pentagon spending goes to contractors. We recommend a reduction of at least 10% in Department of Defense related contracts.
- Stop Frittering Funds on the Joint Strike Fighter:
The Joint Strike Fighter is the poster child of how weapons systems contracts get out of hand. With multiple plane designs, built by multiple contractors in Congressional Districts all over the country – spending boondoggles are proliferating like bunnies. Beyond cost growth, the joint Strike fighters have performance and reliability issues. Do we need them at all? We already have lower cost planes like the F-16 and the F/A0-18. The Congressional Budget Office and others agree that those planes can more than do the job. See also Sayre Speaks: A Plane Costing As Much As A War?
To download these recommendations as a PDF, please go here: Recommendations for Deficit Reductions