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article imageOp-Ed: Trump to feed U.S. military-industrial complex, starve others

By Ken Hanly     Mar 1, 2017 in Politics
Washington - President trump has proposed increasing the U.S. military budget by $54 billion to over $600 billion a ten percent increase but will decrease spending in other agencies to match the increased expenditures,
Large decreases will most likely come from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State Department. Trump said: "I am sending the Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the defense sequester and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history." Jeffrey Sachs, an economist at Columbia University and head of the Earth Institute, noted that the approximately $600 billion the U.S. spends on the military is probably much less than should be counted: "I was just going to add that the $600 billion that we spend is only counting a part of what we really spend on the military. We have another $60 billion on addition to the $600 billion of the Pentagon. That is the intelligence agencies. We have Homeland Security. We have military expenses hidden in the Department of Energy. Of course, we have the incredible costs, the human damage and health in the Veterans Administration. If you add it all up, it’s probably closer to $900 billion a year. It completely swamps everything else that we’re doing right now. And now he’s going to add on top of that — and propose tax cuts for rich people and for corporations. So, this is just one illusion after another. And it’s got to come to a bad end in some way." Sachs is an expert on development economics and poverty reduction.
A similar refrain is noted in a Nation article in relation to Trump's address to Congress last night: Donald Trump used his first Joint Address to the Congress of the United States to engage in an unprecedented flight of fiscal fantasy. Specifically, the president imagined that the United States could cut taxes for wealthy Americans and corporations, rip tens of billions of dollars out of domestic programs (and diplomacy), hand that money over to the military-industrial complex, and somehow remain a functional and genuinely strong nation. In his speech Trump only mentioned that he had placed a hiring freeze on non-military and non-essential Federal workers. This will not include border guards and others charged with immigrant control no doubt. Trump had earlier suggested the State Department and EPA as targeted for reductions. While some workers in the military-industrial complex may prosper from Trump's military spending others will lose their jobs and also suffer from reduced services.
Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget said: “The president is doing what he said he’d do when he ran". While this is true, he also said that he would protect Social Security and Medicare and spend a trillion on infrastructure. It is not clear how he will do that while spending billions more on the military by cutting elsewhere. The $54 billion dollar increase for the U.S. military is almost equal to the entire U.K. expenditure on its military. Russia spends only $66.4 billion in total.
During his campaign for the presidency in 2016 Trump criticized the U.S. war in Iraq and warned about risky military adventures and also spoke out against the bloated Department of Defense budgets. On NBC's Meet the Press in 2015 he said: “I’m gonna build a military that’s gonna be much stronger than it is right now. It’s gonna be so strong, nobody’s gonna mess with us. But you know what? We can do it for a lot less.” He should have said he can do it for a lot more. Of course Trump did also promise during his campaign to increase spending to the military in — contradiction to what he said in 2015.
Mulvaney defended Trump's policy: “[We] took $54 billion out of non-defense discretionary spending in order to increase defense spending — entirely consistent with what the president said that he would do. So what’s the president done? He’s protected the nation, but not added any additional money to the 2018 deficit. This is a winning argument for my friends in the House and a winning argument for a lot of folks all over the country. The president does what he says but doesn’t add to the budget [deficit]. That’s a win.” However, the Trump policy does not consider a proper balance between military and other spending.
Former president Dwight Eisenhower spoke of "a burden of arms draining the wealth and labor of all people; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the people's of this earth." Eisenhower said: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
Even though the U.S. contains just 4.34 percent of the world's population, it accounts for 37 percent of total military spending and is roughly the same size expenditure of the next seven military budgets combined. Other countries are bound to see this as unbalanced expenditures. The U.S. should hardly be surprised if other countries such as China and Russia vastly expand their military expenditures. The Trump policy should remind us of what Eisenhower said: . “We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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