Research: Commentary

Letter to Congress: Rein in Wasteful Pentagon Spending

January 30, 2013 | Letter

By CIP, Various Organizations

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Dear Members of Congress: 

The undersigned organizations represent millions of Americans with a tremendous stake in the outcome 
of the ongoing budget process. As Congress debates the debt ceiling, automatic spending cuts and 
spending in 2013 and going forward, our organizations urge you to ensure adequate funding to preserve 
the basic functions of government and real security for all our people. 

There are two paths toward accomplishing this goal and both must be followed. First, additional new 
revenues must be enacted. President Obama has identified at least $600 billion in new revenues if the 
wealthiest Americans are required to pay their fair share. We can raise more than $600 billion by closing 
tax loopholes for corporations, for the wealthiest 2 percent and for companies that outsource jobs 

Second and just as important: we must rein in wasteful Pentagon spending. We believe Pentagon 
spending should be cut by a minimum of $500 billion to $550 billion over 10 years – similar to the 
automatic cuts to the Pentagon that go into effect beginning in March if Congress does not act (the 
“sequester”). We note that many military experts say cuts could be as high as $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion 
over the next decade without compromising national security. 

Pentagon spending, which comprises more than half of the current discretionary budget, continues to 
absorb the lion’s share of the money Congress appropriates. Without more cuts to Pentagon spending, 
even very deep cuts to all other discretionary funding taken together will fall far short of alleviating deficit 
spending and the rising debt. 

We view reining in wasteful Pentagon spending as a mandate. We must stop paying for the things we 
don’t need so that we can afford to pay for the things we do need. This includes Social Security, Medicare, 
Medicaid, food stamps, and the Affordable Care Act. And it includes discretionary domestic programs 
such as Head Start, nutrition aid, job training, education and cancer screening, just to name a few. 

As a community of advocates, we are committed to creating good jobs here in America, providing our 
families with security and building a brighter future for our children.  If we invest some of the billions we 
spend on the Pentagon in other sectors of our economy, we would actually generate MORE jobs, 
strengthening the middle class and protecting essential services that help our families. Economists at the 
University of Massachusetts-Amherst found that public dollars invested in clean energy, health care, and 
education all create significantly more jobs within the U.S. economy than investing an equivalent amount 
in the military.** As we struggle with high unemployment rates across the nation, this is a critical point to 

We want a safe and secure nation. The safety of our residents is of utmost importance. Proposals to rein in 
wasteful Pentagon spending should not threaten that priority. But the Pentagon budget should not be 
immune from oversight and fiscal responsibility. Like any other department, the Pentagon must be held 
accountable for its spending and be able to prove that its programs are a responsible and worthwhile use 
of our limited tax dollars. 

We believe budget decisions reflect our values, and we believe that we can responsibly pare down wasteful 
Pentagon spending without compromising our nation's security. We can shift from spending on outdated, 
unnecessary weapons to investments in projects that keep us secure and help us prosper- first responders, 
teachers, bridges, roads, and rails. As you face some of the most difficult budgeting challenges in our 
nation's history, we urge you to consider all the paths we must embark upon in order to achieve 
responsible investments at home. 

Sincerely, [List in Formation] 

Alliance for a Just Society 
Alliance for Global Justice 
American Friends Service Committee 
Campaign for America's Future 
Campaign for Community Change 
Caring Across Generations 
Center for International Policy 
Children's Defense Fund 
Coalition for Peace Action 
Coalition on Human Needs 
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) 
Community Action Partnership 
Conference of Major Superiors of Men 
Courage Campaign 
CREDO Action 
Democracy for America 
Democratic Socialists of America 
Disciples Justice Action Network 
Every Child Matters Education Fund  
Fellowship of Reconciliation 
Franciscan Action Network 
Friends Committee on National Legislation 
Friends of the Earth 
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance 
Gray Panthers 
Historians Against War 
Just Foreign Policy 
Leadership Center for the Common Good 
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns 
Military Families Speak Out 
National Alliance of HUD Tenants 
National Council of Jewish Women 
National Employment Law Project 
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty 
National Low Income Housing Coalition 
National Priorities Project 
New Priorities Network 
Office for Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation Franciscan Friars (OFM) Holy Name Province 
Peace Action  
Peace Action West 
Pentagon Budget Campaign 
Physicians for Social Responsibility 
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) 
Promise the Children 
School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) 
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Institute Justice Team 
Social Justice Ministry of Sacred Heart Catholic Church 
Social Security Works 
U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) 
United Electrical Workers (UE) 
United for a Fair Economy 
United For Peace and Justice 
Veterans For Peace 
Voices for Progress 

**The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: An Updated Analysis, University 
of Massachusetts-Amherst, Department of Economics (December 2011)

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