We could hire 1 million elementary school teachers (at good wages, even!)
[As politicians wrangled about cutting future spending on existing programs, in exchange for agreeing to raise the limit on US borrowing (“the debt ceiling”) it turns out that defense spending is untouchable. No cuts there, period. The weapons industry has institutionalized the permanent war economy. Instead, Republicans demanded cuts in programs that address the failures of our economy –medicaid, food stamps, education— plus other key programs brought in by the Biden Administration (IRS staffing, student debt forgiveness, conservation, etc.) Yet here is proposed legislation that recognizes that out-of-control spending on “defense” undermines everything.]
The National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress in December 2022 is the largest Pentagon budget ever. Yet we hardly notice it! $858 billion — $80 billion more than the amount authorized in 2021. The USA spends more on its military than the next nine countries combined. Over half of the military budget goes directly to for-profit corporations and their executives. No nation can afford this! On February 22, Representatives Barbara Lee (CA) and Mark Pocan (WI) re-introduced the People Over Pentagon Act in the House of Representatives. It identifies $100 billion in military spending that could be redirected in ways that would actually reduce violence and militarism at home. $100 billion is the minimum we must cut to transform our society from a permanent war economy to a sustainable economy of community care.
Community care is the economy that prevents crime — unlike spending more and more tax money on policing. Policing does not prevent crime; at best, it punishes people after a crime is committed (and sometimes when no crime has been committed).
Upon introducing the bill, Rep. Lee said “Cutting just $100 billion could do much good: it could power every household in the US with solar energy; hire 1 million elementary school teachers amid a worsening teacher shortage; provide free tuition for 2 out of 3 public college students; or cover medical care for 7 million veterans.”