You cannot be against “Forever Wars” without cutting the military budget
So the amendment relates to this year’s NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act, the military policy bill). The military budget, as we know it, is sort of a two-step process in Congress. One relates to authorizations and the other to credits. The NDAA sets the amount on the first line. It tells the DOD (Department of Defense) what it can and cannot do, but for the purposes of this conversation and the military budget, it usually sets the total amount and also says that the DOD cannot spend more. of X over Y or no more than Y over Z. So that effectively limits the budget.
Joe Biden initially proposed a budget that was $ 12 billion more than Donald Trump’s last year. Since then, two congressional committees – the House Armed Services Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee – have each added nearly $ 25 billion more. So we are now at $ 37 billion compared to last year in nominal terms. Military spending per year from Barack Obama’s last budget to Trump’s last budget increased by $ 120 billion a year, so spending is insanely high now.
The amendment proposed by Mark Pocan and Barbara Lee is the same one they proposed last year. It would take 10% of that $ 778 billion and just put it back into the treasury. And that would apply to all fundraising accounts except Military Personnel, Defense Health Program, and Federal Civilian Employee Compensation – which you know is extremely considerate because, so as we destroy the empire, we want to be as considerate of the working class as possible. and workers in general.
The amendment received ninety-three votes last year. Justin Amash of Michigan, no longer in Congress, was the only type of right-wing congressman to vote for it. There are eighty-five of those ninety-three remaining in Congress who have stood for re-election, and the eighty-five are back in Congress. In other words, the members who voted for it did not suffer at all electorally. So that’s encouraging. But the goal for this year is to recruit new members. And obviously Jamaal Bowman replacing Eliot Engel is a step forward. Marie Newman is in there. Cori Bush will be a sure vote, most certainly. But the basic story of Congress is that our best members are simply too few. We must therefore find ways to help them overcome their weight on the issues that interest them. And again: the American public is in favor of reducing the defense budget, that’s for sure.
But there is also a class division and an elite division (which itself can be explained mainly by the class). I don’t know if there has ever been a study on the type of media that members of Congress consume. But, if you think about it, they get Politics and the hill every morning, both funded by gunmakers. During hearings and expert testimony, they call in representatives of think tanks that take massive amounts of money from the government or from arms manufacturers. Of the top 20 companies ranked by lobbying spending last year, five were arms manufacturers. I think the strategy for the future is to emphasize how the general opinion of Congress is different from that of the general public. It’s very similar to what we saw recently with Afghanistan with all the hysteria in the mainstream media, even as the public overwhelmingly supported the withdrawal.
Either way, we just don’t have enough voice and we have to accept it. We need to understand that we are not going to win over members by politely inciting them. The point is just to win votes, and we have to distinguish those members who are irreconcilable from those who can be convinced. And for those we can’t talk about, we’ll basically have to intimidate them and cultivate public support. Some members just have a bad political outlook and are not bought by the industry, which is ultimately an education problem.
We need to encourage the base of Congress to break away from management, which usually takes more money from gunmakers. I really want to see the Squad use their star power to argue that the NDAA process, the military budget process, is corruption in its purest form. A newly released Brown University study found that one-third to one-half of Pentagon spending since 9/11 has gone to contracts with the private sector. (In my own analysis, I found that 54% went to private sector contracts.)
These arms manufacturers rely heavily on government contracts. In the case of Lockheed Martin, for example, 74 percent of their business came from government contracts only last year. More than half of the Pentagon’s budget goes to contracts, and about 30% goes to the five major arms manufacturers. A basic definition of corruption is the use of public funds for private gain, and that’s pretty much a textbook case.
I’m also hoping to help stigmatize campaign contributions, because while there’s a lot of talk about Congress drafting legislation that favors tax breaks for big donors and that sort of thing, Congress in this case literally gives money to these companies, and these companies give it back directly. So I hope not only to inform Congress’ strategy, but also to influence the general public by making people understand the corruption at the heart of it all.