The endless cycle of draining U.S. pocketbooks to enrich military contractors is underway for Fiscal Year 2015. Thanks to Katie Falkenberg of CODEPINK Denver, we know how many years of school lunches for children living in poverty the current "defense" budget would fund. (It's roughly equal to the life expectancy of someone born under our decade long occupation of Afghanistan.)
Thanks to the Council for a Livable World via the New Priorities Network, we know this about the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):
The House Armed Services Committee approved the bill 61-0 early the morning of May 8 after a marathon session. The bill is expected on the House floor the week of May 19, with the House Rules Committee to determine which amendments the GOP will permit to be offered and which they don’t want to allow. The Senate Armed Services has scheduled its writing of the bill to begin on May 20.
Consistent with the Murray (D-WA)-Ryan (R-WI) budget agreement, the bill authorizes $521.3 billion in spending for national defense and an additional $79.4 billion as a placeholder for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), for a total of $600.7 billion. That total includes $17.9 billion for nuclear weapons and environmental cleanup activities at the Department of Energy.
Hey, isn't NDAA the acronym that brought us the right to be indefinitely detained by the U.S. military anytime they think we might be a threat to "security"? Yup, and this gargantuan amount of money also funds the NSA, which is part of the Pentagon, enabling it to spy on all the people all the time.
Those powers, coupled with the move to bring the Internet within the fold of mainstream media by allowing $$$$ to control access to online information, consolidate the ability of corporations that profit from killing to do it at the taxpayers' expense. Because the taxpayers are too busy watching the latest active shooter news, or celebrity scandal, to pay attention to the arcane and highly complicated Pentagon budgeting process.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Here's my state's entire congressional delegation -- Collins, King, Michaud & Pingree -- in April at the "christening" of one weapon of mass destruction, a Zumwalt destroyer warship, which cost $4 billion to develop and build. That's a lot of school lunches that could have been provided instead of helping General Dynamics doing business as Bath Iron Works continue to rake in profits.
Should I call all four of my "representatives" and demand they vote no on another $600.7 billion for the Pentagon next year?
I've had both Mike Michaud (D) and Chellie Pingree (D) tell me repeatedly to my face that they agree we need to redirect military spending to domestic needs, yet here they are paying homage to General Dynamics for the umpteenth time. Will the Democratic Party bosses allow them to vote no on the FY15 NDAA bill when it comes to the floor of the House of Representatives? Probably, as long as there are already enough votes in hand to make sure it passes.
That's they way our "democracy" works.
I'll call anyway. Even though "Independent" Angus King just endorsed Susan Collins (R) for the U.S. Senate again, and Collins has long been the darling of military-industrial corporations doing business in Maine.
Why will I call? To hold those in power accountable. And because most of my fellow citizens are either too distracted or too scared to do it. And because I still can.
Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121