Yesterday I attended an event way out in Agua Dulce in the Santa Clarita Valley for two of Congress' worst warmongers, House Armed Services Committee Chairman, Buck McKeon (R-CA) and a more hands-on kind of war criminal, teabagger Allen West (R-FL). It was the ugliest, whitest crowd I ever saw. People were suspicious of my hoodies but no one shot at me and eventually I slapped a Mitt Romney sticker on it and I was instantly part of the klan-- although just before that some really grotesque monster came running up and screaming that I was a communist because I was talking with a sassy lady named Carole Lutness, a Democrat who once ran for Assembly. I never got a chance to meet Buck or West when I left after 2 hours, melting in the sweltering heat.
Although, as we saw last week, House Republicans-- led by McKeon, Cantor and Paul Ryan-- are asking Americans to go deeper into poverty so that military contractors (financiers, along with Wall Street, of their and their allies' political careers) can continue to reap record profits, most Americans want to see Congress making significant cuts to the Pentagon budget.
As Congress struggles to rein in the federal deficit, a new survey finds Americans preferred to cut defense spending more than any other program.
In a new survey that not only asked for opinion, but also briefed the respondents on the federal budget, Americans came to a bipartisan conclusion: 67 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats supported cutting the defense budget.
And by quite a bit.
Here's how the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), one of the three non-profits who conducted the survey, boils it down:
"The average total cut was around $103 billion, a substantial portion of the current $562 billion base defense budget, while the majority supported cutting it at least $83 billion. These amounts both exceed a threatened cut of $55 billion at the end of this year under so-called 'sequestration' legislation passed in 2011, which Pentagon officials and lawmakers alike have claimed would be devastating.
'When Americans look at the amount of defense spending compared to spending on other programs, they see defense as the one that should take a substantial hit to reduce the deficit,' said Steven Kull, director of the Program for Public Consultation (PPC), and the lead developer of the survey. 'Clearly the polarization that you are seeing on the floor of the Congress is not reflective of the American people.'
In fact, just this morning the House of Representatives advanced a bill that would sidestep the "sequestration," cutting social programs and dodging cuts for defense. Just to bring you up to speed: The "sequester" came into play after a "supercommittee," established by the big budget agreement reached in the summer of 2011, failed to find $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years. Because that failed, the agreement stipulated that the cuts would be made evenly across the board.
? The U.S. defense budget is six times that of China's and equal to that of more than the next 17 highest spending countries combined.
? If the "trigger" spending reductions under the August debt deal go through starting in 2013, the Pentagon budget would return to 2007 levels-- a time when we were paying for two major wars.
? Republicans in Congress are now trying to renege on the Budget Control Act they had forced into place, increasing defense spending above the agreed-upon levels in the debt deal.
? Military and defense spending played a significant role in increasing the national debt-- over the last decade, the defense budget nearly doubled.
? The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to this soaring increase in defense spending and to record deficits. Gen. Colin Powell, Joint Chiefs Admiral Michael Mullen, and even a number of conservative politicians say the Pentagon budget should be a part of fixing our deficit.
? America is safer under President Obama, who has shown across-the-board national security strength with achievements that include ending the war in Iraq, killing most top Al Qaeda leaders, forcing Iran to the negotiating table, and winding down Afghanistan.
? The bin Laden raid is just part of the President's successful efforts to reorient the fight against terrorism to focus specifically on the key threat we face-- defeating Al Qaeda and weakening terrorists around the globe.
Today, House Republican leadership is asking low and middle income families to sacrifice their health care and basic services in order to protect bloated and wasteful Pentagon spending and to protect tax cuts for millionaires. This out of touch budget to end the Medicare guarantee while giving massive tax breaks to Big Oil and the wealthiest is not a serious proposal, Mr. Speaker.
In these difficult times for millions of struggling families, Republicans are asking that we vote to cut $36 billion from the food stamp program and children?s health services so we can spend more money on cold war weapons that do nothing to improve our national security.
Our budget should reflect our values. We should not be balancing our budget on the backs of the most vulnerable. We do not have to make these heartless cuts that hurt our poor and struggling families so we can spend more money to build two more nuclear submarines or buy more over budget V?22 helicopters. We do not have to make choices that abandon the needy, our seniors and the futures of our children.
We must come together to protect people who are struggling, our Nation?s children and our elderly during economic downturns, not make them more vulnerable. We must protect and invest in the futures of our most vulnerable families, not dole out more money to the Pentagon for outdated and over budget weapons programs that we don?t need and doesn?t make America any safer.
We should not be shortchanging the education of our children, risk the health of our seniors and allow our infrastructure to crumble beneath our feet so that bloated defense contractors can keep getting
The priorities on display in this bill are clear and shameful. Once again, the Republicans put millionaires and billionaires, subsidies for big oil and gas, and bloated Pentagon spending above everyone and everything else. As co-chair of the Out of Poverty caucus, I urge my colleagues to reject this attack on our most vulnerable.