“The best way to reign in wasteful federal spending is to slash the dangerously bloated military budget by at least 50%,” said Jill Stein, who is seeking the Green Party nomination for President.
In addition to bankrupting us financially and morally, the inflated military budget has created a trigger-happy foreign policy, leading to disastrous military interventions and regime change. In the Middle East, this has produced failed states, mass refugee migrations, and ever-worsening terrorist threats.
Stein added, “Instead of needless and destructive wars, that make us less safe not more safe, it’s time to bring our tax dollars home to rebuild America. We can build real security funding schools, creating jobs, providing universal healthcare, repairing our infrastructure and funding the transition to 100% clean renewable energy.”
Over half of federal discretionary spending, the portion of the federal budget decided by Congress each year, goes to military spending. President Obama has requested roughly $600 billion for this year’s Pentagon budget.
“If we include spending on nuclear weapons, Veterans Administration costs, and the military’s portion of the national debt, we are spending over $1 trillion on the military each year. In comparison, federal spending in other areas like education, agriculture, transportation, housing, science, energy and the environment is miniscule. For example, military spending is 25 times greater than the budget for energy and the environment, at a time when even the Pentagon admits that climate change is a dire and growing threat to our security.”
“President Eisenhower’s dire warnings about the military industrial complex acquiring undue power over our government and stifling democracy have come true,” said Stein. “Far too much of the military budget has become wasteful corporate welfare, and war profiteers drive our foreign policy. Profit-driven military adventurism is not making us more secure, it’s making the world more dangerous for Americans and everyone else. We need to refocus our military on defending our country, not dominating the globe,” Stein asserted.
Stein called for all candidates to reject campaign contributions from military contractors. In 2014, military contractors gave $8.9 million to Democrats and and $13.5 million to Republicans in Congress. Virtually all members of Congress focus on securing defense contracts for companies in their districts.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, from January 2015 through February 2016, the Clinton and Sanders campaigns together received at least $765,049 from employees of major defense contractors — more than twice the $357,775 sum received by the Republican Party presidential candidates. The donations to Clinton are only a third larger than that given to Sanders.
As President, Stein would remove American troops from unnecessary bases around the world. The US spends a hundred billion dollars per year maintaining over 1,000 military facilities in more than 130 countries.
“Much of what we spend our military budget on is morally wrong. We have killed and destroyed the lives of millions of civilians in our war for oil. We routinely invest American tax dollars in propping up governments and dictators that systematically violate the human rights of their own citizens,” noted Stein. Stein also condemned the escalation of the use of drones under the Obama administration that have killed an untold number of civilians.
Stein would also root out the massive corruption in military spending. A failed attempt to audit the Department of Defense during the Clinton administration found that $2.3 trillion of $7 trillion in transactions could not be justified, suggesting that up to a third of DOD expenses may be due to waste or fraud.
“War profiteering by military contractors - which has been rampant in Iraq and Afghanistan - should be eliminated and prosecuted. The revolving door between government and military contractors must be shut,” said Stein.
Stein would save up to a trillion dollars in coming years canceling obsolete or unnecessary projects like the F-35, the new strategic bomber, and the Littoral Combat Ship. She would save an additional trillion dollars over a decade by canceling the development of new nuclear weapons, which threatens to start a dangerous new nuclear arms race.
“Today we must take seriously Dr. Martin Luther King’s warning that a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. By cutting dangerous military spending and making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, we can lower taxes for the vast majority of Americans, and ensure that our tax dollars go towards the things that actually improve our lives: jobs, education, healthcare, and preventing climate catastrophe. We can simultaneously improve national and global security, with a foreign-policy founded on international law and human rights, not on maximizing profits for the weapons industry, “ concluded Stein.