Issue Position: Common Sense Budget Act
"Advocating cuts to the defense budget may seem strange while America is at war in Iraq, but the "dirty little secret" is that tens of billions of dollars are wasted annually by the Pentagon. With record deficit spending, Congress is working to find ways to responsibly manage the federal budget."
- Yvette Clarke
Clarke supports the Common Sense Budget Act with 15 original co-sponsors and a group of business and retired military leaders. By transferring $60 billion from the Pentagon budget to priorities that benefit America's long term security the Common Sense Budget Act, said Clarke, "puts wasteful Pentagon spending on the table as a solution to the federal budget train wreck."
"The federal budget should reflect the priorities of the American people, not the needs of an insatiable military-industrial complex," said Clarke. "The Common Sense Budget Act offers a plan that can strengthen our nation by investing in programs that benefit America's long term security, like schools, healthcare, humanitarian foreign aid, homeland security and reducing the budget deficit."
"Fifteen years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is mind-boggling and inexcusable that the Pentagon continues to waste tens of billions of dollars buying outdated, Cold War-era weaponry for a national security threat that no longer exists," said Clarke. "Our spending on security should address the current threats we face, and by getting rid of programs that don't, we can make the much needed investment in ensuring health care for all of our children, improving our public schools, ending our dependence upon foreign oil, and improving our homeland security."
The Pentagon cuts in the defense budget will not hurt America's ability to support its troops in the Iraq War or defend against terrorists in any way. Most of 60 million in proposed cuts are weapons still under development, even though they were designed to fight the Soviet Union.
Under the Common Sense Budget Act, America could, without raising taxes, 1) provide annual health coverage to all children who lack it ($10 billion/year), 2) rebuild America's crumbling public schools over 12 years ($10 billion/year), 3) retrain a quarter million workers ($5 billion/year), 4) cut our reliance on foreign oil in half over ten years ($10 billion/year), 5) increase funding for homeland security ($5 billion/year), 6) boost funding for medical research ($2 billion/year), 6) save millions of lives in impoverished nations ($13 billion/year), and 7) begin to reduce the deficit ($5 billion/year).
"Canceling weapons systems designed to fight the collapsed Soviet Union-weapons that have no role in fighting terrorists-is not being weak on defense," said Ben Cohen, Co-Founder, Ben and Jerry's and President of the Priorities Campaign. "It is rebuilding our schools, providing health care for our kids, training our workforce for decent jobs, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and creating a decent quality of life for all of us."
"It's time for Congress to stop treating the defense budget like a sacred cow, essentially off limits to budget cuts," said Clarke. "America can trim the Pentagon budget without jeopardizing national security in any way."
The proposed cuts include: Cold War weapons programs ($26 billion), national missile defense ($7 billion), nuclear weapons ($13 billion), force structure changes ($9 billion), and streamlining the bureaucracy ($5 billion).