There is never any doubt that America needs and depends on a strong military to protect the nation’s interests around the world and defend the country from foreign aggression. Indeed, as of 2009, America spent more on defense than the next 16 countries combined, and that is 6 times the next biggest spender (China) and ten times the second biggest (Russia). With our involvement in two unnecessary wars, it is expected that America’s defense budget is larger than any peaceful nation’s, but this country’s propensity for imperialism and warmongering has kept defense spending at record levels for decades; even during the fleeting peaceful periods.
As Republicans decimate program after program with claims that America is broke and cannot afford to assist the unemployed, children and seniors, and struggling middle-class families, they always find plenty of funds to feed the military-industrial complex under the guise of supporting the troops and keeping America safe. Yesterday, the House passed a $649 billion defense spending bill by an overwhelming margin that represents a $17 billion increase and covers the unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bipartisan vote was a reflection of legislators’ intentions to protect defense jobs, protect national security, and avoid cuts during wartime even though the useless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are supposed to be winding down.
It is curious that as a majority of Americans are finding it difficult to support the wars Bush started without provocation, lawmakers feel comfortable increasing the defense budget. Apparently, when Republicans said that everything was on the table for possible spending cuts in budget negotiations, they meant everything except defense spending, tax increases on the wealthy and corporations, and oil subsidies. The bipartisan support to increase the defense budget reflects many Democratic legislators’ fears that failure to increase military entitlements is a sign of weakness in protecting national security. The argument that increasing the defense budget preserves jobs though is a fallacy of epic proportions and reflects Republican’s hatred for research and development to find alternative energy sources.
The amount of taxpayer dollars spent on bombs and bullets to kill Muslims would be better spent on research and development of technologies to create products that make this country less dependent on foreign sources of oil. There is already technology available to manufacture wind and solar energy products but Republicans would have to first admit that renewable energy is preferable to fossil fuels. Republicans are heavily in debt to the oil industry and will not support clean and renewable sources of energy because the Koch brothers have not yet figured out how to control access to the sun or wind. Republicans will not even support a high-speed rail system that would create hundreds-of-thousands of jobs because such a system would take cars off the roads, and fewer cars means less dependence on oil.
Increasing the defense budget is also a form of entitlement for corporations with lucrative government contracts to supply fighter aircraft and other weapons of war. For Republicans, it is better to mass produce tanks, smart bombs, and missiles than repair America’s rapidly crumbling infrastructure or build schools, hospitals, or affordable housing. There have been arguments proffered that without two wars and military bases in nearly every country in the world, our soldiers would have no place to live or no jobs at home. If America cut its defense spending in half, the funds would provide jobs to improve life for Americans, but Republicans have proven time and again that they have no interest in improving America or the lives of its people.
Another part of the defense bill included an amendment to slow the repeal of the discriminatory DADT policy that allows gays to serve openly in the military. The amendment was sponsored by Tim Huelskamp (R-KAN) and it blocked funding for a training manual for the Chaplain Corps to assist them in ending the DADT policy. The House approved Huelskamp’s amendment by a vote of 236-184 and the purpose was to save money producing the manual and prohibit chaplains from performing same-sex marriages on military bases. The amendment serves no practical purpose except to delay full repeal of DADT until Republicans can reinstate the homophobic prohibition on gays serving openly in the military. It is ultimately hypocritical of Republicans to increase the defense budget and yet block funding for a manual in a cost saving measure.
A legitimate question the American people should ask is; how much of our money can we continue spending on wasteful bombs and bullets while the country is falling apart and the population sinks farther into poverty? If there is enough money to increase the defense budget by billions of dollars, how can America be broke? Republicans are slashing programs that benefit nearly every American citizen but are handing out billions to corporations, the oil industry, defense industry, and wealthiest 2% of the population at the same time they claim America is broke. Either America is not broke and Republicans are lying, or the country is broke and Republicans are stealing what little we have left and handing it to the wealthy. If any American doesn’t believe that defense spending is more entitlements for corporations, the oil industry, and the wealthy, they are beyond stupid.
Every defense contractor, whether large or small, makes huge profits off of killing Muslims or they would not be in business. The troops in the field and stationed around the world are not profiting from their service, but the suppliers, weapons manufacturers, oil industry, and private security contractors are getting rich off of bloated defense budgets. In the meantime, Republicans are telling the American people that the country is too broke to fund food and drug inspections, emergency relief organizations, and early warning systems for extreme weather events. Republicans have also stolen money from programs to assist seniors, veterans, and children so they can enrich defense contractors and the oil industry that supplies the military with fuel for tanks, jets, and military transports.
At the rate this nation is progressing, it will not be long before all of the spending will be for the military, the oil industry, and corporations. The population will be destitute and the only people with jobs will be in the armed forces or prison guards. The vote yesterday to increase defense spending was bipartisan, and it is disappointing that so many Democratic representatives joined Republicans to give the last of our tax dollars to the oil industry and corporations building bombs. It is increasingly apparent that America is not broke and if there is enough money to increase spending for bombs, tax breaks for big oil and corporations, and entitlements for the wealthy, there is plenty to help the American people. There is some good news in that Republicans did manage to show restraint in saving defense spending by blocking full repeal of DADT. It sucks for gays in the military, but shows that Republicans can say no to spending all of Americans’ money on the defense budget if their religion tells them to.