Warren and Sanders on Military Spending

I have to admit I don’t believe most of what politicians say, and after Obama I feel like “don’t get fooled again” is the response to promises about stopping wars and closing Gitmo, etc. In fact, I am still angry (you can probably tell!) about that – I got excited and fell for the marketing message of hope and change, and it was a lie.

It wasn’t as bad as Bush’s lies. And Bush’s lies were more significant than Trump’s. Trump’s a bad liar, really – he uses the technique so much he’s worn it out. You can tell he’s lying because his mouth is making weird, slurred, semi-coherent noises.

So I didn’t spend a lot of time digging up Warren or Sanders’ stated proposals for military spending. This morning at Counterpunch there was a summary, and I’ve got to admit I am pretty thrilled. Now, I am whacking back my feeble attempts to hope for change, again. [cp]

Bernie Sanders’ campaign has published a fact sheet on how everything he proposes can be paid for. On that fact sheet we find this line in a list of items that collectively will pay for a Green New Deal:

“Reducing defense spending by $1.215 trillion by scaling back military operations on protecting the global oil supply.”

Now, you’re talking. There is the usual “1.215 trillion over the next ${unclear} years” which I despise, because if you’re talking about more than 4 years you’re talking about budgets you no longer can influence. The republicans would come roaring back in and spend the entire economy on wars, in revenge.

But, that’s got to terrify the wrong people. So I like it.

As Politico reported four years ago on Sanders, “In 1995, he introduced a bill to terminate America’s nuclear weapons program. As late as 2002, he supported a 50 percent cut for the Pentagon. And he says corrupt defense contractors are to blame for ‘massive fraud’ and a ‘bloated military budget.” Those last bits are not really disputable facts, but the fact that Bernie has said them out-loud augurs danger for war profiteers.

“Massive fraud” is “telling it like it is.” It’s fraud all the way down. And the pentagon keeps being unable to audit its books. If Bernie were able to do anything about this, it’d be fantastic. I’m not sure I dare hope.

To be fair: apparently Warren has also pointed at the bloated pentagon budget as a place to find money for social programs. So, yay for Warren, too!


  1. Bruce Fuentes says

    I too was very disappointed in the Obama years. I get frustrated when people talk about what a progressive he was. He was not. He was a middle of the road, party hierarchy loyalist. He was better than what came before and after but that is not saying a whole lot. I truly think he thought he could get the GOP to work with him to better this country. He didn’t realize until too late that when the GOP looked at him, they saw a “boy” a “n-word”. They saw nothing else. That racism and hate continues today on the right.

  2. says

    I put Warren on the title as an invitation for someone who understands Warren’s take on defense and military handouts/nuclear weapons to fill us in.

    None of this will matter if the republicans control the senate, but the president has a lot of influence over the budget.

  3. dangerousbeans says

    even if the republicans control the senate, it’s still better than them controlling both. a government that does nothing much is better than one that is actively bad
    at the very least cutting the US military budget is a good idea. it would also be funny to see a full audit of the pentagon, but that will definitely never happen

  4. invivoMark says

    I was on Capitol Hill today. It’s appropriations season, Trump’s proposed budget is filled with cuts (or at best, stagnation) to all the federal departments that address critical healthcare and agriculture challenges, and that would be an incredibly stupid move. I’ve gotten a strong impression from the offices of both Rs and Ds that those cuts aren’t going to happen, and I think history supports that.

    I think Trump has proposed cuts to NIH every single year, but weirdly, NIH’s budget has been growing each year. It didn’t even do that when we had Obama – he let it stagnate. I’m curious why this difference exists, whether it’s because the zeitgeist in Congress has shifted, or there are more lobbyists pressuring for health research, or because people pay less attention to Trump’s budgets than they did Obama’s.

    I doubt there will be serious cuts to defense in the next 20 years, no matter what the presidential budgets say. I think every third or fourth group of lobbyists I saw today were in uniform, and I doubt they were there to lobby for expansion of the VA.

    I still don’t understand a lot of things about Obama’s presidency, but I don’t think he was delusional about what he could achieve. He was a senator for four years. Congress are a chummy bunch. Obama knew the people he’d be working with on a first-name basis.

    Anyway, these are my observations. I am still learning.

  5. says

    Interestingly, I think a lot of US power projection comes from their control over the oil supply. Let’s say the US cut transportation use by 30%-40% (a pretty achievable number over the next 20 years and certainly possible in a mere 10 years), replaced 50% of petroleum “crack-down” chemical feedstocks with built-up feedstocks (probably from formic acid as a main precursor, but from others as well), and ended all use of oil in electrical generation, I think (without a major political restructuring). We would not only be independent, we would have reduced consumption enough that our reserves would last us dramatically longer than we would ever need. Yet, even in that scenario, I’m convinced we’d go out of our way to push our navy into the petroleum shipping lanes.

    If we don’t protect those shipping lanes, it’s unlikely that major threats to the shipping would develop. (If any country truly did threaten the oil supply, going to war and crushing their navy would actually be easier and cheaper than those ongoing global operations, and any nation considering interdicting oil would have to know that.) Of course, the US assumes that rather than simply permitting international trade to hum along without special effort, as it would do most of the time, that other nations would be obliged to step up military spending and carve out areas of protection of their own. For some stupid reason, this argument appears to be convincing to states like Argentina, Australia, Brazil, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan and the UK who have major economies. With this presumption (that constant military operations are needed worldwide to protect oil shipping) in place, our presence in those lanes permits us to bluster about how other countries “owe” the US favors for providing this “service”.

    Not only that, but if other countries have no jobs for their military service members to do, they won’t expand their militaries – and keeping other militaries down is another way of keeping our military supreme.

    yep, while I’m for radically cutting DoD spending, the Military-Industrial-Congressional complex would never consider mere energy independence sufficient reason to justify cutting oil-shipping protection operations.

  6. komarov says

    That last quote sounds a lot less cheerful if you change the “as late as” into “as recently as”. Or just go straight to “Some twenty years ago…. “Maybe Sanders just changed the numbers, but either way I’d avoid optimism around this topic. When talking about policy promises, x years ago is worth nothing. When talking about the US military budget, anything other than cynicism is practically delusional. Like the economy, it can only ever grow. (Gosh, now I’ve overstrained my cynicism gland or bone or muscle or whatever it is. Better put some ice … somewhere.)

    Re: Crip Dyke (#6):

    Whatever conflict they get involved in or start, the US will always manage to spend near-unlimited amounts of cash to achieve very little. So having expensive fleets prowl the seven seas year round to discourage anyone from “starting something” might actually be the more cost-effective approach. (That way the US get to choose where they want to start the next boondoggle of a humanitarian crisis instead of someone choosing for them!) As deterrents go, a fleet with big guns is probably more effective than any nuclear arsenal. Especially when controlled by a government that has no problems with shooting at civilians and offering tepid excuses, if anything, after the fact. And a fleet may always come in handy during the next invasion.

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