Groups Unite to Urge Congress to Redirect Federal Spending to Meet Human Needs and Rebuild the Economy

For Immediate Release

Broad Coalition
Contact: 

Marie Rietmann 202-544-5055 rietmann@wand.org

Groups Unite to Urge Congress to Redirect Federal Spending to Meet Human Needs and Rebuild the Economy

They believe the U.S. can trim excess “defense” spending and find new solutions that make the country safer and stronger

WASHINGTON - Calling for a new and better definition of security, organizations representing millions of constituents from across the U.S. signed onto a letter to Congress delivered March 25, 2009. The letter urges Congress to reevaluate the country's security needs, and to make changes in the proposed FY10 federal budget. Specifically, it seeks to redirect money from the Pentagon to human and environmental needs.

"Human needs groups see first hand, every day, how our federal budget affects millions of Americans," says Susan Shaer, executive director of WAND (Women's Action for New Directions). "And truly, we are alarmed. We believe that our citizens are at risk, and facing security challenges every day; many are without jobs, healthcare, housing, and even food. The recession is posing the most risk to those who are already vulnerable: the poor, the disabled, the elderly. It's time to readjust our federal budget to meet these urgent needs."

The broad coalition, from Common Cause to FCNL to the National Organization for Women, acknowledges that the federal budget is under increased strain -- due to demands from the crumbling economy, years of deficit spending, and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - but agrees on one area of the budget that is bloated and has excess resources: the Pentagon. "Every year, the Pentagon gobbles up at least half of the federal discretionary budget," says Marie Rietmann, public policy director of WAND. "We could easily cut several weapons systems that were developed in the 1980s to fight the Cold War, and our defense capabilities would be just as strong."

The organizations hope to show Congress that there is a huge groundswell of grassroots support for diverting money away from obsolete weapons and toward rebuilding a stronger economy. "It's time for Congress to stand up to Pentagon contractors, with their lobbyists and tens of millions in political contributions, and do what's right for the American people by cutting unneeded military spending and using that money in ways that maximize job creation and economic recovery," says Common Cause President Bob Edgar.

"What does it mean for individuals and families to feel secure?" asks Susan Shaer. "Is it several new F-22 aircraft that cost $351 million each, and do little or nothing to help against the real threats of today? Or is it feeling safe in a real home: fed, educated, healthy, warm? Because we're paying for more military toys while our folks at home are increasingly worried about everyday security needs. We are asking Congress to consider these trade-offs when they make the federal budget for FY10."

The letter -- organized by WAND and NETWORK - states: "The President's FY10 budget outline calls for $534 billion for DOD. That is an increase of $9 billion beyond inflation. In addition, separate supplemental appropriations continue to provide most of the money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some $130 billion for FY10. Nuclear weapons and some miscellaneous military costs could add an estimated $23 billion for a national security total of $557 billion. Even though we are encouraged that this outline calls for a smaller increase than in recent years, it continues a relentless increase in DOD spending to a higher level than at any point since World War II. This does not make sense in a time of fiscal crisis."

Many of the organizations that signed on work with people who live on the edge, who daily feel insecure about what tomorrow holds. "Government has a role to play in these people's lives," says Shaer. "It is there to guarantee a certain level of security. But the federal budget increasingly defines security as having a huge military machine."

"It's time to re-deploy funds from war to providing for the needs of people here at home." Rietmann says, "We are not offering sufficient services to our own people, while we feed too much to the arms manufacturers. And make no mistake: this is not money for veterans; this is about weapons that were designed for a bygone era."

"As the most powerful, wealthiest country in the world, we should be able to take care of our citizens," says Rietmann. "We should be smart enough to see beyond technologically arcane weapons systems to the real needs of our people."

Signing organizations:

National groups

Americans for Democratic Action, Inc.

Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs

Black Women's Health Imperative

British American Security Information Council

Catholic Mobilization Network

Church Women United

Coalition of Labor Union Women

Coalition on Human Needs

Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism

Common Cause

Community Action Partnership

Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Foreign Policy in Focus

Franciscan Action Network

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Gender Action

Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office

Methodists United for Peace with Justice

National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

National Organization for Women

National Priorities Project

NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Peace Action

People with Disabilities for Social & Economic Justice, Inc.

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office

Progressive States Network

Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Women's Focus Committee

Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, United States Province

3D Security Initiative

True Majority

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

The United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society

USAction

Washington Office of Public Policy, Women's Division, United Methodist Church

Women's Action for New Directions

 

Local, State, and Regional groups

Protecting Arizona's Family Coalition/Phoenix, Arizona

Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas/Larkspur, California

Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)/Livermore

St. Mark Presbyterian Church Peace and Justice Commission/Newport Beach

Interfaith Peace Ministry Orange County/Orange

Orange County Interfaith Coalition for Peace and Justice/Orange

California Church IMPACT/Sacramento

Sellers & Company/San Diego

Orange County Interfaith Coalition for the Environment/Tustin

Jewish Family Services/Danbury, Connecticut

Collaborative Center for Justice/Hartford

Pax Christi Northeast Florida/St. Augustine, Florida

Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda/Atlanta, Georgia

Georgia WAND/Atlanta

North Decatur Presbyterian Peace & Justice Committee/Decatur

Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Central Leadership/Nazareth, Kentucky

Peace Action Maine/Portland, Maine

Xaverian Brothers USA/Baltimore, Maryland

PeaceAction Montgomery/Brookeville

Nepal America Welfare Association/Somerville, Massachusetts

Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield

Gray Panthers of Huron Valley/Ann Arbor, Michigan

WAND Southeast Michigan/Southfield

Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs/Duluth

Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation Advisory Committee, Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls

People of Faith Peacemakers/Minneapolis and St. Paul

Women Against Military Madness/Minneapolis

Public Policy Center of Mississippi/Jackson, Mississippi

Leadership Team of the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood/O'Fallon, Missouri

St. Louis Province of the Carondelet Congregation, U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph/St. Louis

West Midwest Justice Team, Sisters of Mercy/Omaha, Nebraska

NH Citizens Alliance for Action/Concord, New Hampshire

New Jersey Tenants Organization/Hackensack, New Jersey

YWCA of Binghamton & Broome County/Binghamton, New York

Reaching-Out Community Services Inc./Brooklyn, NY

West Side Campaign Against Hunger/New York, NY

North Carolina Fair Share/Raleigh, North Carolina

Oklahoma Therapeutic Foster Care Association/Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Albany Peace Seekers/Albany, Oregon

Corvallis Alternatives to War/Corvallis

Climate Crisis Working Group/Eugene

Community Alliance of Lane County, Eugene

Eugene Peace Works, Eugene

Oregon WAND, Eugene

Veterans for Peace - Squadron 13/ Eugene

Seeking Out Democracy/Junction City

Human Services Coalition of Oregon/Portland

Peace with Justice Ministries/Network Oregon-Idaho United Methodist Church Conference/Portland

Oregon PeaceWorks/Salem

PathWays PA/Holmes, Pennslyvania

Epiphany House, Inc./Lansdowne

Campaign for Working Families/Philadelphia

Just Harvest/Pittsburgh

Providence Connections Inc./Pittsburgh

Tennessee Citizen Action/Nashville, Tennessee

37th Legislative District Democratic Committee/Seattle, Washington

Peace Action Wisconsin/Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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