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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.



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Entries tagged "military spending"

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Talking The Talk

April 21, 2011 ·

If you listen very closely, you’ll detect the faint murmur of President Barack Obama finally “talking the talk” about cutting defense spending and eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the rich. We welcome these sentiments. But there is a woeful disconnect between the spirit they invoke and the “facts on the ground.“

Obama proposed a $400 billion cut to the bloated military budget — but the cuts stretch across 12 years and barely graze the Pentagon, which will continue spending at Cold War levels. He waxed eloquently when he opposed renewing Bush tax cuts for the rich, even as he continued to embrace his new “job czar”: GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, the poster boy of corporate tax dodging.

So, as Americans filed their taxes en masse, IPS experts continued calling attention to military spending and unfair tax policies.

IPS scholar John Feffer wrote in a recent OtherWords op-ed, that "the United States was responsible for 94 percent of the global increase in military expenditures in 2010." The Global Day of Action on Military Spending, organized by IPS and the International Peace Bureau, resulted in hundreds of actions around the world on April 12th, including an eye-catching display in Athens, a “die-in” at the steps of the Treasury building in London, and a song written by the indie pop group Peachcake in Arizona.

Tax day also brought attention to the low taxes paid by the super wealthy and the nonexistent taxes on transnational corporations including Bank of America, GE, BP, Verizon and FedEx. As IPS scholar Chuck Collins points out in his recent article, “What Would Jesus Tax?,” the US could collect over $4 trillion in new revenue by closing offshore tax havens, adding new top tax brackets for millionaires, and instituting a simple financial transaction tax over the next decade.

Additionally this week, IPS scholar Sarah Anderson outlined seven innovative mechanisms to increase public revenue streams and IPS scholar Noel Ortega blogged about the burgeoning youth movement against corporations: US Uncut.

Obama may be beginning to find his voice, IPS is hoping to help him find the way to the bully pulpit.

Military Spending Cuts: Depends on what the Meaning of 'On the Table' Is

February 10, 2011 ·

Deficit pressure has put "everything on the table" for cuts, including the Pentagon. Everyone from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to President Barack Obama agrees on this. But what they mean by this is all over the map.

The budget Obama will present to Congress next week will likely begin what the Pentagon is billing as $78 billion in cuts to its budget over five years. In fact these are cuts to their plans for expansion, i.e., slowing a proposed increase is being defined as a cut.

While both Obama and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan pay lip service to the "defense is on the table" mantra, both also exempt the defense budget from their budgetary restraining actions: a five-year discretionary freeze, in Obama's case, and $100 billion in cuts, in Ryan's.

The president’s debt reduction commission proposed real cuts, but these would leave the military budget only 5 percent below where President Reagan jacked it up to militarily defeat the Soviet Union — shortly before its collapse.

Defense Secretary Gates describes even those modest potential cuts as "catastrophic."

Let's define budget cuts as spending less next year than this year. Nothing else should qualify.

Savings aren't just needed because of the nation's massive debt. We also need to address our security deficit. The civilian and uniformed military leadership agrees on a key point: U.S. foreign policy needs to be less dominated by the military. Achieving that goal would entail decreasing the proportion of resources devoted to offense (the military) relative to defense (homeland security) and prevention (non-military foreign engagement). IPS will score this proposed budget's mix of security expenditures, and report the results after Obama releases it.

Miriam Pemberton, an Institute for Policy Studies research fellow, leads the task force that produces the yearly Unified Security Budget for the United States with Lawrence Korb of the Center for American Progress.

SOTU: Really, Mr. President?

January 26, 2011 ·

The following is a summary of the analysis IPS fellow Phyllis Bennis made of President Barack Obama's foreign policy comments during the State of the Union address. It's included in the interactive transcript on PBS NewsHour's website.

President Barack Obama
I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

Phyllis Bennis
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, from President Obama’s own party, said just this morning that we have to “look at the war in Afghanistan” when he was asked where he would cut the budget. He’s right.

Rep. Barney Frank from Massachusetts has called for a very moderate 25 percent cut in the defense budget. If we’re serious about jobs for the 15 million unemployed and health care for still tens of millions without insurance, that 25 percent cut is going to have to be just the first step.

President Barack Obama
Look to Iraq, where nearly 100,000 of our brave men and women have left with their heads held high; where American combat patrols have ended; violence has come down; and a new government has been formed. This year, our civilians will forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people, while we finish the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq. America’s commitment
has been kept; the Iraq War is coming to an end.

Of course, as we speak, al-Qaeda and their affiliates continue to plan attacks against us. Thanks to our intelligence and law enforcement professionals, we are disrupting plots and securing our cities and skies. And as extremists try to inspire acts of violence within our borders, we are responding with the strength of our communities, with respect for the rule of law, and with the conviction that American Muslims are a part of our American family.

Phyllis Bennis
But there are 50,000 U.S. troops still occupying Iraq. The "new government" has been formed, but it is widely discredited, riddled with corruption, and incompetent and unable to provide even the basics of electricity, security, jobs.

The war will not be over until all the U.S. troops come home, all the U.S.-paid contractors (those paid by the State Department as well as the Pentagon) are no longer on our payroll, and Iraq's people have a government they choose.

President Barack Obama
We have also taken the fight to al-Qaeda and their allies abroad. In Afghanistan, our troops have taken Taliban strongholds and trained Afghan Security Forces. Our purpose is clear – by preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people, we will deny al-Qaeda the safe-haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11.

Phyllis Bennis
Are we really hearing that the war in Afghanistan – where our own officials admit our top ally is corrupt; where more Afghan civilians and more U.S. troops died last year than ever before; where our other friendly neighbor, Pakistan, continues to shelter guerrilla forces attacking the U.S. across the border – is somehow going well? All our political and military leaders admit this war cannot be won militarily; why do we continue to fight a war as if it could be? We have more than 100,000 U.S. troops occupying Afghanistan, plus another 100,000 or so U.S.-paid mercenaries. They’re not winning. This is a war we cannot win and we cannot afford…

Is President Obama going to say anything about the latest failure in U.S.-brokered peace talks in the Middle East? Or is he just hoping we’re not paying attention, and that we’re fine with paying $30 billion over these ten years directly to the Israeli military, money that could be used for 600,000 new green jobs here at home?

President Barack Obama
We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.

Phyllis Bennis
It’s about time. The long-time dictator in Tunisia, just ousted by a popular revolt, was backed politically and militarily by the U.S. for more than two decades.

President Barack Obama
Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families. Let us serve them as well as they have served us – by giving them the equipment they need; by providing them with the care and benefits they have earned; and by
enlisting our veterans in the great task of building our own nation.

Our troops come from every corner of this country – they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.

Phyllis Bennis
Let’s really support the troops – let’s end the terrible failing wars in which they are forced to serve, and bring them home. Let’s provide real health care when they return, and rebuild an economy that provides jobs for young people rather than have them drafted by poverty, lack of money for school, lack of jobs, lack of options.

Military Spending Takes its Place at the Table

November 11, 2010 ·

The two chairs of the Deficit Reduction Commission have floated their trial balloon.  Here’s my good news/ bad news quick take on their proposals for military spending:

Good news:

  • Cutting military spending—the formerly untouchable component of the budget—is off-limits no more. Secretary Gates has been proposing “cuts” that are actually shaved, and redirected, increases.  What the Deficit Commission chairs are proposing is, actually, cuts.
  • Military spending gets equal treatment!  It makes up half the discretionary budget (what Congress votes on every year).  The team of Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson propose cutting $100 billion from defense, and $100 billion from everything else.  Proportional, in other words.
  • This includes $20 billion in weapons buys.  This would be the largest cut in this budget since the end of the cold war.  The list includes items that IPS’ Unified Security Budget task force, which I chair, and the Sustainable Defense Task Force, of which I am a member, have recommended, including ending, finally, the hybrid helicopter plane—the V-22 Osprey—that’s struggled to become airborne since the eighties, and that even Dick Cheney tried to kill; canceling the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program; cutting in half buys of the Joint Strike Fighter plane, the most expensive weapons program EVER; and further cutting the grab bag of high-tech toys, the Future Combat Systems.
  • They propose cutting 1/3 of our overseas bases, bringing home 150,000 of our troops in Europe and Asia, which IPS has also been advocating for years.  The savings they project from this are far smaller than our projections.

Bad news:

  • They make no mention of savings to be gained from cuts to the nuclear weapons complex, for example, or to unneeded aircraft fighter wings, or submarines, or destroyers.
  • They get to their $100 billion number by gesturing toward large quantities of unspecified “efficiencies.”
  • While reassigning Defense Secretary Gates’ projected savings to the deficit is better than his plans to plow them back into his own budget, this money is sorely needed for job-creating investment.
  • No sooner had the balloon been launched than other members of the Commission began taking pot shots at it.  Further deliberations, and the voting, are still to come. 
From the Frontlines: May 18th, 2010

May 18, 2010 ·

The bill for Afghanistan could run into the trillions, as another suicide bomber hits another U.S. convoy. IPS fellow Miriam Pemberton, who studies the military budget, wrote that the era of Bush-style spending isn't quite over.

Noam Chomsky has to settle for talking to Birzeit University by teleconference in Amman, after he's denied entry into Israel.  

The racial wealth gap has "more than quadrupled over the course of a generation," according to a new study. Dedrick Muhammad has been studying this for awhile and has said that we need a huge shift in focus if we're going to narrow this gap.

Undocumented students stage a sit-in at John McCain's office, calling on him to support the DREAM Act so they can obtain scholarships and work their way through college while going through the process of legal residency.  

The Dept. of the Interior, despite the BP oil mess, still continues to approve offshore drilling plans in the Gulf of Mexico without environmental review. The Center for Biological Diversity is suing Sec. Salazar to stop this.

CBPP says that the growing budget shouldn't be an obstacle to passing the jobs bill: "Most of the provisions in this bill, which is now in the final stages of development, are strictly temporary measures that will stimulate additional demand for goods and services and create jobs while the recovery is still struggling to gain traction; they are not permanent measures that add to the long-term budget deficit."

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