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Friday, March 13, 2009

Letter to the House Speaker

Dear Ms. Pelosi:

Soon you will be turning to the critical issues of reforming health care and our energy infrastructure. Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) has particular ideas about healthcare reform, and we have desired outcomes for an alternative energy economy, but the purpose of this letter is to endorse Congressman Barney Frank's call for a 25% cut in the military budget.

In particular, we would like to cut the military budget and use the monies saved for healthcare reform and alternative energy research.

Half the world's spending on war, and preparations for war, is currently done by the United States. That's too much.

Half of our discretionary budget, as you well know, goes to war and preparations for war. That's too much.

Now is the time to return to the dreams of our Founders, to provide for the general welfare and build a more perfect Union--rather than a future of sprawling overseas bases, thousands of nuclear weapons, and a militarized outer space.

Let's end the occupation of Iraq. Remembering the lessons of LBJ, let's not get more heavily involved in another war in Afghanistan. And now that we have a new Obama Administration grounded in the real world, isn't it time to reprioritize our national budget, and make some serious cuts in our out-of-control military spending?

Let's spend the money on the almost 50 million Americans without any health coverage. Or spend that money on driving down the price of wind energy and solar energy, or building an electricity grid that can deliver clean power to everyone, so that never again are we tempted to go to war for Mid-east oil.

Are the American people better off providing healthcare to all of our citizens, or spending hundreds of billions of dollars over the coming decade building the proposed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter? A fighter, by the way, intended for use against enemy air forces that do not exist.

Are the American people better off catching up on windmill and solar technology, or buying 458 V-22 Osprey helicopters at the current price of $110 million apiece? (Keep in mind that this is a weapons program that even Dick Cheney once wanted to end.)

Are the American people better off weatherizing homes to make them energy efficient training inner-city young people to do the weatherizing jobs, or spending more money on the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer or the SSN-744 Virginia Class Submarine, two expensive weapons systems still searching for a purpose?

We believe most of the rest of the Pentagon's “wish list” is not affordable right now, including ballistic-missile defense, Future Combat Systems, and the proposed 28 new Presidential helicopters.

And if you need any more examples of unnecessary spending, we suggest taking a look at the excellent Unified Security Budget put out by the Foreign Policy in Focus group at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). IPS has identified many projects that are no longer needed, or never were needed, which can be cut from the military budget without risking our security.

It's not just the money--it's the fact that spending money on overdue domestic needs greatly increases the number of new jobs created! According to a 2007 study conducted by economists at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, we create 8,500 jobs for every $1 billion in military spending, which is less than half to two-thirds the number of jobs created by investing in critical domestic infrastructure. For example, $1 billion invested in mass transit creates 19,800 jobs (more than twice as many); $1 billion invested in education leads to 17,700 jobs (twice as many); $1 billion invested in health care creates 12,900 jobs; or invested in construction projects like home weatherization creates 12,800 jobs (1.5 times as many).

History demonstrates clearly that nations can overreach militarily, and when they do their economies pay a heavy price. After eight years of throwing money at the military, and essentially doubling our military spending (both overt and covert) the United States of America has reached a point of no return-either we cut the military budget, or it will drag our economy down.

The alternative is to make cuts in the military budget, stopping or preventing expensive weapons programs, which do not work or have no strategic rationale since the Soviet Union collapsed, or will make us less safe rather than more, and then to put those dollars to work in providing healthcare, weatherizing homes, building mass transit, or erecting windmills, all of which create more new jobs per dollar spent.

We know you have many tough choices to make, given the economic weaknesses with which the Bush/Cheney Administration and Wall Street have burdened America. We believe that this economic crisis provides us with the opportunity to change our priorities, to make history.

Your leadership can change the direction of our nation. The time to redirect our budgetary spending from warfare to healthcare, from weaponry to windmills, is during this crisis. As the famous saying goes, If not now, when?

And if you are bold, we'll gladly do what we can to help build a better future.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,


Progressive Democrats of America

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