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17 Dec, 2019 05:06

Bernie smashes GOP & Dems for supporting ‘massive, unpaid for’ military spending hike in withering op-ed

Bernie smashes GOP & Dems for supporting ‘massive, unpaid for’ military spending hike in withering op-ed

Democratic 2020 hopeful Bernie Sanders took no prisoners in a scathing op-ed aimed at America’s extravagant military spending, arguing a new budget proposal only proves the “hypocrisy” of Congress and its “corporate enablers.”

Insisting on a government that represents all American citizens and not merely a wealthy “elite,” the independent Vermont senator took to the pages of the Washington Post on Monday with an assault on the latest National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a comprehensive military spending bill set for a vote in the Senate later this week.

“Instead of massive spending on a bloated military budget, tax breaks for billionaires and huge subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, we need to invest in the working families of this country and protect the most vulnerable,” Sanders wrote.

The massive unpaid-for defense bill is just one obvious example of the hypocrisy of the deficit hawks in Congress and their corporate enablers.

In addition to a $30 billion hike from last year’s already-gargantuan budget, the latest spending bill smuggles in a number of troubling provisions, including the “Caesar Bill,” which threatens to slap a new round of sanctions on Syria, Iran, and Russia over alleged misdeeds in the Syrian civil war. While several measures aiming to restrain US foreign policy featured in earlier versions of the NDAA – such as a provision barring US military aid to Saudi Arabia’s lethal air war on Yemen – they were gutted from the act in committee, leaving only the most hawkish elements in place in the final iteration.

A “hard look” at America’s endless wars is “long overdue,” Sanders said, slamming the enormous proposed budget of $738 billion, which now dwarfs several of the next largest military spenders put together.

Few of the ‘deficit hawks’ are asking if it is fiscally prudent to be spending more on defense than the next 10 countries combined – more than half of our nation’s discretionary budget. 

The senator also challenged fellow lawmakers in both major parties, who frequently ask how he will fund his sweeping proposals in the areas of healthcare, housing and education, noting that the same representatives seldom express such concerns when approving wasteful military budgets year after year.

I find it ironic that when I... propose legislation to address the many unmet needs of workers, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor, we are invariably asked, ‘How will we pay for it?’ Yet we rarely hear that question with regard to huge increases in military spending.

Even for the self-avowed democratic socialist, however, some questions remain about his commitment to scaling back Washington’s profligate spending habits, having already accepted more defense industry contributions than any other candidate in the current race. While some portion of that is explained by the support Sanders enjoys from rank-and-file employees of arms manufacturers – which is counted in public records as support from the industry itself – the senator has come under fire for his support for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, a poster child for military boondoggles. Though the plane is expected to cost a total of $1.5 trillion over its lifespan, one of the most expensive systems in America’s arsenal, Sanders has been hesitant to pull support from the project, which creates jobs in Vermont.

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