Did you get sick of hearing about the fiscal cliff a couple months back? So did I. But here’s the deal, talk over spending cuts still aren’t over. And though the partial agreement that Congress came up with was less than satisfactory for those of us who want to see the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share, something neat did happen. A tiny door was left open.
All that’s left to discuss are cuts to spending. We can’t talk about alternative sources of revenue or ending the Bush era tax cuts, because our lawmakers took those off the table. But you know what’s still on the table? Cuts to Pentagon spending.
It’s too early to celebrate, since if the automatic cuts (that congress just delayed last month) do go into affect on March 1st, we will still see $31.4 billion in cuts to domestic programs like WIC, Head Start, child care, housing, home energy, and homeless aid, education and training. Medicare will be cut by $11.2 billion. Our communities, and in particular those who are already most vulnerable in US society, will suffer.
But we have this brief window now where we can really make the case that it’s the Pentagon’s turn. The Pentagon budget includes billions for programs that are wasteful and unnecessary. The F-35 fighter jet for example, costs $1.5 trillion (yes, TRILLION!) for a fleet, but military generals themselves call them an “epic boondoggle.” We should end that program altogether. And our tax dollars are lining the pockets of defense contractors. The average salary of a top 5 defense contracting CEO last year was $21.5 million(higher than almost any other CEO on Wall Street). There has never been a proper audit of Pentagon spending, ever. Meanwhile vets returning from our endless wars are left to fend for themselves and the VA is severely under-funded. Our spending priorities are all out of sorts!
So in the next month its our job to put our feet into that crack that’s been left open, and shove the door open wide. We can create economic vitality and real security by investing in jobs for young people, transforming our education system or investing in green energy and jobs, as these youth filmmakers suggest in their entries for the 3rd annual ‘If I Had a Trillion Dollars’ Youth Film Festival. We can move our money from the pockets of wealthy defense contractors and into our struggling communities. The time to cut pentagon spending is now.