Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Demonstrators carry signs during an anti-war protest after President Donald Trump launched airstrikes in Syria, April 15, 2018 in New York City. (Photo"Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

To 'Nurture Human Lives Rather Than Take Them Away,' 2020 Democrats Urged to Support Slashing Annual Pentagon Budget By $200 Billion

"It is long past time to eliminate excess Pentagon spending and invest the savings in urgent domestic and human needs."

Jake Johnson

In an effort to rein in the bloated military-industrial complex and free up funds for "programs that nurture human lives rather than take them away," a coalition of nearly two dozen progressive advocacy groups on Thursday launched a campaign urging 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to support cutting the Pentagon budget by at least $200 billion per year.

"The left is done paying for warmongers to squander human life and resources, and we will not support candidates who fail to pledge to reverse this horrific course."
—Sean Vitka, Demand Progress

Over the next decade, the "People Over Pentagon" agenda would make at least $2 trillion in spending available for essential domestic needs and ambitious programs like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, said the coalition, which includes Win Without War, Public Citizen, 350.org, and other grassroots organizations.

"I've always found it remarkable that when it comes to war, fighter jets, and bombs, most politicians never ask how we'll pay for it, but when it comes to progressive policies like Medicare for All, some members of Congress pretend we can't afford to foot the bill," Heidi Hess, co-director of CREDO Action, said in a statement.

The current Pentagon budget—which was approved on a bipartisan basis last June—is $716 billion. As Common Dreams reported in March, the Democratic leadership is attempting to cut a deal with Trump to hike military spending to $733 billion—slightly less than the $750 billion President Donald Trump demanded in his 2020 budget request.

"Democrats, for good reason, vehemently oppose almost everything Trump proposes, but when he asks for a huge increase in military spending, there are almost no voices in dissent," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 presidential candidate who voted against the 2019 Pentagon budget, wrote for In These Times earlier this year.

Presidential hopefuls Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also voted against the 2019 military budget.

The People Over Pentagon coalition is urging 2020 Democrats to not just oppose increases in war spending, but to call for significant cuts.

"America needs leaders who will speak plain truths about Pentagon excesses and waste," Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said in a statement. "Presidential candidates should show leadership by talking about deep cuts in Pentagon spending and how the savings could be used for other pressing purposes. Our coalition aims to make reallocation of Pentagon spending an issue in the presidential campaign."

On Thursday, the coalition sent letters to all 26 Democratic presidential hopefuls, urging them to commit to the following three goals:

  • Pentagon spending should be reduced by at least $200 billion annually, freeing up $2 trillion or more over the next decade for domestic and human needs priorities;
  • The United States should never again go to war without congressional authorization, and Congress should not authorize military action without identifying revenue to pay for current and future costs, including taking care of injured veterans;
  • By adhering to our values and promoting international cooperation, we can prevent war, address the underlying causes of conflict and meet humanitarian imperatives.

"Pentagon spending has spiraled out of control," the letters read. "It is long past time to eliminate excess Pentagon spending and invest the savings in urgent domestic and human needs priorities—environmental protection, education, infrastructure, healthcare, and more—that will make the United States stronger and more just."

The coalition suggested more than 20 ways the Pentagon budget can be cut by $200 billion each year "without undermining national security or capabilities." The list of options included:

  • Defer or cancel development of the B-21 Bomber—save $3 billion;
  • Reduce U.S. presence in Afghanistan by half—save $23.15 billion;
  • Reduce active troop presence in Europe to 40,000—save $1.5 billion;
  • Cancel the Long-Range Standoff Weapon—save $1.4 billion.

"Spending more than half of discretionary taxpayer dollars on the Pentagon fails to make America safer at the cost of other vital needs like job creation, healthcare, and solving climate chaos," said Paul Kawika Martin, senior director of policy and political affairs at Peace Action. "At the same time, the U.S. short shrifts funding for diplomacy, development and other tools that prevent wars in the first place. We need bold leadership to break the hold of what President Eisenhower deemed 'the military-industrial complex.'"

The new campaign to shift funds from the American war machine to domestic programs and international diplomatic efforts comes as the Trump administration continues to escalate tensions with Iran, heightening the chances of yet another devastating war of choice in the Middle East.

According to the Associated Press, the Pentagon on Thursday plans to present the White House with a strategy that would send 10,000 more American troops to the Middle East to defend against unsubstantiated "Iranian threats."

Sean Vitka, counsel at Demand Progress, said in a statement that 2020 Democratic presidential candidates "must reject Donald Trump's continued march toward militarism and the decades of unnecessary wars that precede and continue under him."

"The progressive policy on wars of choice is clear: the left is done paying for warmongers to squander human life and resources," said Vitka, "and we will not support candidates who fail to pledge to reverse this horrific course."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

NATO to Boost Ranks of High-Readiness Forces by 650% to Over 300,000

Anti-war campaigners responded that "this is not the path to peace and will not make the world safer."

Jake Johnson ·


Ilhan Omar Says Plan to Fix Supreme Court Must Include Impeachment Probes

"We need an impeachment investigation into Clarence Thomas' role in the January 6th coup, as well as into Gorsuch, Alito, Barrett, and Kavanaugh's testimony on Roe during their confirmation hearings," said the Minnesota Democrat.

Jake Johnson ·


Right-Wing Justices Should Be Impeached for Lying Under Oath, Says Ocasio-Cortez

"We have a responsibility to protect our democracy," said the New York Democrat. "That includes holding those in power who violate the law accountable."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Infuriating': Biden Rebuked for Continued Opposition to Supreme Court Expansion

"What does Biden 'agree' with doing?" Mehdi Hasan asked. "What does the leader of this country want to do to stop the increasingly fascistic assault on our democratic institutions and basic rights?"

Kenny Stancil ·


'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo