Filed Under:  Letter to the Editor, Opinion

Coming together to reprioritize military spending

11th June 2012   ·   0 Comments

The two states we serve are connected by the Mississippi River – start to end. When we met at a conference in Washington, D.C., we found we have much more in common than this wonderful river that runs through the middle of our country.

Both of our states, and most others, are facing substantial budget deficits. State economies are not only suffering from the long and deep recession, but are also faltering because of the dollars our states lose to Pentagon spending every year; much of it for outdated cold war technology to keep some contractors rich. The great recession exacerbated by Pentagon spending can cause even the greatest state budget to collapse, resulting in deeper cuts to critical public services. As state legislators, we mutually agree that our states are losing money while federal dollars go toward beefing up Pentagon weapons systems, even though we are much better or over-equipped compared to Russia, China and all other countries.

The men and women from our states coming home from service in Iraq and Afghanistan need our help. After serving us overseas, they come home with post-traumatic stress, joblessness, homelessness, suicidal thoughts and actions, unaffordable tuition, substandard health care and hopelessness for their future. Oftentimes, our military does little to help them adjust. Our states are too broke and have made too many cuts locally to help much. Why? Not because we don’t care about them or value them for what they have come through. It’s more because we don’t have these funds.

So, let’s talk about the big elephant in the room. Pentagon spending has to be tamed. The Pentagon is still getting 56 percent of our country’s discretionary budget and cannot produce a clean audit of the costs. Do you believe this is fiscally responsible? Of course not – especially when so many states are grappling with enormous budget deficits.

There are plenty of places where we could cut back. For example, we could cut spending on nuclear weapons. As Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) says, “America’s nuclear weapons budget is locked in a Cold War time machine.” We don’t need this oversized nuclear arsenal to meet 21st-century security needs.

The current chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey said, “It makes no sense at all for us as a nation to have an extraordinary capable military instrument of power if we are economically disadvantaged around the world.” Real power comes from economic strength and vitality. We aren’t showing that to the rest of the world.

In fact, in the latest budget, it is expected that Minnesota will send $15 billion to Washington for military spending and Louisiana will send $7.6 billion, instead of keeping it here to help our vets and provide solvency to our states.

It’s time to end pork projects in Congress that bleed us dry. Every dollar that goes into the bloated Pentagon budget is one less dollar to help our economic recovery and military men and women. Don’t be fooled by hawks who tell us we won’t be safe if we don’t keep this bloated spending. It’s time to act now to cut this pork. Our power comes from economic strength, one state at a time,

– The Hon. Regina Barrow
La. State Representative

– The Hon. Barb Goodwin
Minnesota State Senator

This article was originally published in the June 11, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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