Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Today is the LAST DAY of this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

TODAY is the last day to meet our goal -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year.

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.

TODAY is the last day of our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Biden Urged to Embrace Windfall Tax as Exxon Says Profits Doubled in Second Quarter

"It's time for the president to demand that Congress pass a windfall profits tax on Big Oil and use the revenue to provide rebates to consumers NOW!" wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Jake Johnson ·


Texas Supreme Court Allows Century-Old Abortion Ban to Take Effect

"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences."

Jake Johnson ·


'What's There to Even Discuss?' Omar Says Free, Universal School Meals Should Be Permanent

"We have an opportunity to prove that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can still deliver big things. And we can feed tens of millions of hungry kids while we do it."

Jake Johnson ·


'Stark Betrayal': Biden Administration Floats New Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

"This is the third time since November the Biden administration has announced new oil and gas leasing plans on the Friday before a holiday," said one climate advocate. "They're ashamed, and they should be."

Jake Johnson ·


As US Rolls Back Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

"I'm hopeful today's announcement gives activists in the U.S., and especially Black women given the shared history, a restored faith that change is possible and progress can be made."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo