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PORTSIDE  August 2011, Week 1

PORTSIDE August 2011, Week 1

Subject:

Ready to Rumble for Jobs, Not War & More Weapons?

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Sat, 6 Aug 2011 16:42:08 -0400

Content-Type:

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Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (190 lines)

Ready to Rumble for Jobs, Not War and More Weapons?

By Judith Le Blanc
CommonDreams
August 5, 2011

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/05-11

Something is missing in the swirl of news reporting on
the debt ceiling deal struck on August 2 by the
Congress and the President for close to $1 trillion in
cuts in discretionary programs over the next decade.

Will the 56% of discretionary spending that goes to the
Pentagon take a hit in the name of deficit reduction?

The short answer is not necessarily, not unless we are
ready to rumble.

Even the Senate Armed Services Committee leaders Sens.
Carl Levin and John McCain have no idea what the deal
does to the Pentagon budget.

The cruel irony is the debt ceiling deal exempts
spending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, even
though war costs are one of the biggest factors driving
up the national debt by over a trillion dollars.

Caps have been set for "security and non security"
spending. The cuts will follow. The security category
lumps together the Pentagon with the State Department,
Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and nuclear weapons
systems.

Right now cuts to the Pentagon budget are not
guaranteed. It is threat. Without a grassroots rumble
the ax won't fall on the Pentagon or weapons of mass
destruction, it will land on veteran's benefits or
diplomatic efforts.

It's a fight, not a discussion.

The military budget has doubled in the last 13 years.
Up until now there has been a bottomless till for
weapons and wars. Lawrence Korb, former assistant
secretary of Defense under President Reagan, says, "in
real or inflation adjusted dollars it is higher than at
any time since World War II, including the Korean and
Vietnam wars and the height of the Reagan buildup."

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta released a statement
stirring up fear about the threat of across the board
cuts if the "sequester mechanism" took effect and the
Committee of 12 Congressional representatives fail to
reach a compromise on how to make the next $1.5
trillion in cuts.

He also said,"We must be accountable to the American
people for what we spend, where we spend it, and with
what result. While we have reasonable controls over
much of our budgetary information, it is unacceptable
to me that the Department of Defense cannot produce a
financial statement that passes all financial audit
standards."

That's our mandate to rumble. The Pentagon and the
Congress must be made accountable to us for what they
cut, spend and the result. Pouring scarce resources
into Pentagon is not a jobs program.

Unemployment has become a constant. CNBC, the business
news website, reported on August 2, "The job cuts were
up 60 percent from June, and 59 percent higher than the
41,676 layoffs recorded in July 2010. It was the
largest monthly total since March 2010, and the first
month this year that the government was not the biggest
job cutter."

Cuts in "non security" discretionary spending means
layoffs. The 26 million people unemployed or
underemployed in our communities can't afford for that
to happen.

Nick Johnson of the Center on Budget and Policy
Priorities notes that the deal "inevitably will lead to
large federal cuts in programs for state and local
governments," and that these cuts will begin "in the
middle of the worst year for state budgets." State and
local governments have eliminated more than 400,000
jobs since the start of 2010.

So let's rumble during the August Congressional recess.
Take the facts to our Congressional representatives. We
can and must cut the Pentagon budget to fund jobs and
services in our communities.

Although the The National Commission on Fiscal
Responsibility and Reform, the bipartisan commission
chaired by former Senator Alan Simpson and Erskine
Bowles, did not have many recommendations to cheer
about, but they got one thing right. Cutting military
spending is possible.

They proposed closing one third of US bases around the
world as an immediate savings. Not only is it a wise
budget cut, it fits with how US foreign policy needs to
change in the 21st century. We can't afford a
militarized foreign policy of endless wars and
occupations and the modernizing of nuclear weapons
systems.

In The Hill, Tom Colina, the research director at Arms
Control Association wrote, "By carefully reducing our
nuclear forces and scaling back new weapon systems, the
United States can save billions. Moreover, by reducing
the incentive for Russia to rebuild its arsenal, these
budget savings can make America safer."

In June, 2010,the bi-partisan Sustainable Defense
Taskforce initiated by

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), working in cooperation with
Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC), Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), and
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), proposed ways to cut Pentagon
spending in their report "Debt, Deficits and Defense: A
Way Forward." It can be done if the political will is
mustered.

That's where the peace and economic justice movements
come in: generating the political will.

Along side of the misery of the budget cuts, there is
an opportunity to win real cuts in military spending.
Joel Rubin in Ploughshares Blog, "There is still much
to be defined, yet the inherently competitive situation
now shaping up on defense spending is welcome news to
those who have been long seeking to get rid of the
bloated weapons systems that weaken our economy while
doing scant little to advance our national security."

The President said in April when he announced his
framework for dealing with the federal budget that
"we're going to have to conduct a fundamental review of
America's missions, capabilities, and our role in a
changing world."

New movements are taking the opportunity for such a
fundamental review and a change in the spending
priorities. On August 4, the AFL-CIO issued a
statement, "Fake Political Crisis and Real Economic
Crisis- A Call for Leadership and Action." The AFL-CIO
Executive Council said, "It doesn't have to be this
way. There are real solutions to the job crisis, but
real solutions require government action."

They also noted, "There is no way to fund what we must
do as a nation without bringing our troops home from
Iraq and Afghanistan. The militarization of our foreign
policy has proven to be a costly mistake. It is time to
invest at home."

It's going to take a an adamant, militant grassroots
rumble to demand demilitarization of US foreign policy,
to end the insanity of endless and countless wars
draining the scarce resources needed for people, the
world over, to have jobs and a decent life.
_____________________

Judith Le Blanc is the Field Director for Peace Action,
the largest grassroots peace group in the US.
[log in to unmask]

___________________________________________

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