The FY 2012 budget request for Pentagon spending will consume 56% of the discretionary budget, including the Department of Defense ($553 billion), funding for nuclear weapons ($18 billion) and the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ($118 billion). That leaves a smaller amount for often unmet domestic human, environmental and public safety needs, as well as nonmilitary international engagement.
This percentage of discretionary spending is too high in light of our dire domestic needs, particularly in the areas of job retraining and infrastructure reinvestment, and I would vote our military spending priorities accordingly. We must begin to beat swords into ploughshares while buying a leaner, nimble, smarter military that can protect our national interests against asymmetric threats from entities such as al-Qaida, anywhere on the planet. Defense spending must also restore spending Congress has proposed to cut on international diplomacy and non-military engagement, and fund projects that secure vulnerable nuclear materials and prevent nuclear proliferation.