Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

According to CNN, the contract issued on Monday is the Navy's "most expensive shipbuilding contract ever" and was awarded to weapons maker General Dynamics Electric Boat and subcontractors. (Photo: U.S. Navy/General Dynamics Electric Boat)

According to CNN, the $22.2 billion contract issued on Monday is the Navy's "most expensive shipbuilding contract ever" and was awarded to weapons maker General Dynamics Electric Boat and subcontractors.  (Photo: U.S. Navy/General Dynamics Electric Boat)

US Navy Places $22 Billion Cyber Monday Order for Nuclear Submarines, But Who Is Asking How We Gonna Pay For It?

"$22 billion could fund a lot of kids learning," said Albert Lee, a Democrat running for Congress in Oregon. "We need an education race; not a wasted arms race."

Jon Queally

It was Cyber Monday and the U.S. Navy put in a $22.2 billion order for new nuclear submarines but absolutely no headlines in the United States, pundits on Morning Joe, former presidents, nor elected politicians active on social media have been spotted asking this question in response to the massive purchase: How we gonna pay for it?

According to CNN, the contract issued on Monday is the Navy's "most expensive shipbuilding contract ever" and was awarded to weapons maker General Dynamics Electric Boat and subcontractors. "The massive contract for nine nuclear-powered, Virginia class attack submarines comes just months after the head of the US Navy in the Pacific warned of a massive Chinese naval buildup and his trouble in getting enough submarines to counter it," the news oulet reported.

"If you're following the presidential race, you've heard plenty of sniping about Medicare for All and whether we can afford it. But when it comes to endless war or endless profits for Pentagon contractors, we're told we simply must afford it—no questions asked."
—Lindsay Koshgarian, National Priorities Project
As progressive lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and 2020 Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders have pointed out, the "how we gonna pay for it" question has become a common mantra among the "elite D.C. pundit" class and "deficit scolds" when public benefits like tuition-free higher education, Medicare for All, and paid family are proposed—but rarely if ever deployed against massive military expenditures like the "ultra-costly, underwhelming" F-35 fighter jet, the $6.4 trillion thrown at the endless "war on terrorism," or these latest Virginia class attack submarines.

"If you're following the presidential race," Lindsay Koshgarian, director of the National Priorities Project at the Insitute for Policy Studies, wrote in a column last week, "you've heard plenty of sniping about Medicare for All and whether we can afford it. But when it comes to endless war or endless profits for Pentagon contractors, we're told we simply must afford it—no questions asked."

While a search of social media and news reporting turned up no evidence of elected lawmakers speaking out or asking questions about the cost of the Navy's latest order, Albert Lee, running in the 2020 Democratic primary to unseat incumbent Rep. Earl Blumenauer in Oregon's 3rd congressional district, did make the connection between Pentagon spending and what else that money might possibly fund.

"$22 billion could fund a lot [of kids] learning," Lee said. "We need an education race; not a wasted arms race."

Last week, senior advisor to the Bernie Sanders campaign Winnie Wong raised the issue of Pentagon spending—including the Navy's nuclear submarine plan—in a series of tweets:

Otherwise on Twitter, it was seemingly regular people with just a few followers who saw the story Monday and had a similar reaction as Lee. "Wow! That's a lot of houses for the U.S. homeless," declared one. Another linked to CNN's coverage and then quoted the late hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur: "They got money for war but can't feed the poor."

In a statement on Monday, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, applauded the Navy's new contract and heralded "these next generation submarines" for providing "our forces with a distinct national security advantage." The massive weapons, he added, "are an unmatched tool for deterrence."

Just don't ask how we're going to pay for them.


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

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·


PG&E Charged With 11 Felony Counts—Including Manslaughter—Over 2020 Zogg Fire

"PG&E has a history with a repeated pattern of causing wildfires that is not getting better," said Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. "It's only getting worse."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Hold My Pearls': Debbie Dingell Lets Marjorie Taylor Green Have It Over Abortion Rights

The Michigan Democrat engaged in a verbal altercation with the far-right Republican lawmaker from Georgia on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Jon Queally ·


Dems Who Opposed Pentagon Cuts Received Nearly 4x More Donations From Weapons Makers

The latest passage of the NDAA "is particularly strong evidence that Pentagon contractors' interests easily take precedence over national security and the public interest for too many members of Congress," said one critic.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo