Why is Congress Ignoring Your Wishes?

July 24, 2012 | By | Add a Comment

The looming threat of “sequestration,” the automatic tax increases and budget slashing that will occur if the government is unable to agree about how to reduce our federal deficit, has war hawks on edge. No right-minded citizen wants cuts to military spending to put our national security at risk, and we all know that today’s world is a pretty dangerous place. But will trimming the defense budget help or harm Americans?

First, it should be pointed out that today the United States spends more on defense, even in real terms, than it did during the Reagan build-up. We pump over $520 billion a year into military operations—not including the costs of the war in Afghanistan and winding down our presence in Iraq! Imagine what could be accomplished if some of that money were spent on helping Americans domestically instead of killing people abroad.

A recent article in The Christian Science Monitor reports that Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) and Barney Frank (D-MA), in acknowledgement of this fact, proposed an amendment to freeze Pentagon spending at current levels.

“When we are discussing cutting even the most basic social safety net programs, we think increasing the defense base budget makes all our exhortations about the deficit ring hollow,” they wrote in a letter to their fellow lawmakers prior to the vote this week. “You may want to keep this letter,” they added. “The chances of receiving one from a more unlikely pair of your colleagues in your time in Congress are probably pretty low.”

The amendment passed with support from 158 Democrats and 89 Republicans, and the House on Thursday voted to give the Pentagon $607 billion in total this year. This is more than the Senate, which has yet to propose its own version of the defense bill, or the White House says its wants.

But it’s not just the wishes of the Senate and the White House upon which the House of Representatives trods. Later in the same article it’s noted that polls suggest Americans want substantially greater cuts to defense spending than even the Obama administration is proposing. Surprisingly, “support for defense cuts was equally strong in congressional districts that would stand to lose the most from them—in other words, areas where big defense corporations and jobs are based.”

In light of this information, a serious question arises: If cutting the defense budget has bipartisan support, and if Americans—even those who have the most to gain from military spending—broadly want rather aggressive defense cuts, why is the House of Representatives ignoring those wishes? Perhaps you’d like to contact your representative and find out what he or she has to say about the matter.

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