Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.


Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is interviewed after a news conference at the Marriott Hotel at Waterfront Place on June 3, 2021 in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo: Michael Swensen/Getty Images)

Manchin Rejects $3.5 Trillion Social Investment After Backing $9+ Trillion for Pentagon

"Ever notice how 'deficit hawks' vote for record-high defense spending, yet claim bills that help people and challenge lobbyists are 'too much?'" asked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Jake Johnson

Sen. Joe Manchin on Thursday derided his own party's plan to spend $3.5 trillion over the next decade to combat the climate crisis, invest in child care, and expand Medicare as "fiscal insanity."

"All this operatic moaning about $3.5 trillion is ridiculous hypocrisy. Manchin has casually voted for nearly three times that for defense spending."

But progressive lawmakers and commentators were quick to point out that Manchin (D-W.Va.)—along with other conservative Democrats who are currently standing in the way of Democrats' reconciliation package—have had no problem greenlighting the Pentagon's increasingly bloated budget year after year after year.

"Ever notice how 'deficit hawks' vote for record-high defense spending, yet claim bills that help people and challenge lobbyists are 'too much?'" Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) asked in a tweet Thursday evening.

Noting that the reconciliation package includes yearly spending of $350 billion while the proposed military budget for Fiscal Year 2022 is $770 billion, the New York Democrat wrote: "Guess which got rubber stamped and which gets deemed a 'spending problem.'"

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the $770 billion military policy bill—which includes $740 billion for the Pentagon alone–by a vote of 316-113, with just 38 Democrats voting no. The Senate is expected to pass its version of the National Defense Authorization Act in the coming days.

In a column published late Thursday, The Week's Ryan Cooper observed that Manchin "voted for every single one of the military budgets over the last decade—in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020."

"He voted for all $9.1 trillion," Cooper wrote. "While he occasionally complained about wasteful military programs and asked for an audit of the Pentagon, these quibbles were never enough to get him to vote differently. He helped inflate the already-bloated war budget and regularly boasted about thus 'supporting' the troops. This year, he did it again."

"So on one level, all this operatic moaning about $3.5 trillion is ridiculous hypocrisy," Cooper continued. "Manchin has casually voted for nearly three times that for defense spending—money that killed hundreds of thousands of people and turned half the Middle East into a smoking crater. A modest fraction of that total to help parents pay their bills, give seniors dental coverage, fight climate change, and so forth is not some intolerable burden on the economy."

West Virginia activists in kayaks presented that critique directly to Manchin on Thursday as the Democratic senator listened from his yacht:

In ongoing talks over the reconciliation package, Manchin is pushing for a top-line spending level of $1.5 trillion. That figure is at least $2 trillion less over 10 years than Democrats' current plan, which would spend $3.5 trillion over the next decade.

As Win Without War executive director Stephen Miles noted Thursday, Manchin's preferred $1.5 trillion number is "less than we'll spend at the Pentagon over the next two years."

"And Manchin's talking about a DECADE of spending across the entire rest of the government," Miles wrote on Twitter. "During that time we'll spend somewhere north of $8 trillion, possibly closer to $10 trillion. Just. at. the. Pentagon."

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

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Plan to Discharge Fukushima Water Into Pacific Gets OK From Regulators

The discharge could release a number of radioactive isotopes into the Pacific Ocean, critics say.

Julia Conley ·

Stockholm Institute Says World Is at a 'Boiling Point' as Climate Crisis and War Rage

"The natural systems that support life on Earth have been breached, and the human systems remain plagued by inequalities."

Jake Johnson ·

Urging Renewable Transition, UN Chief Says Humanity Set to 'Incinerate Our Only Home'

"If we act together, the renewable energy transformation can be the peace project of the 21st century," said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.

Andrea Germanos ·

Big Wins, Tough Losses in Key Progressive Primary Fights

Tuesday's flurry of progressive victories, said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, demonstrates the growing strength of the left's electoral movement.

Kenny Stancil ·

Progressive Summer Lee Declares Victory With Slim Margin in PA Primary

"The people took on the corporations and the people won," Lee said in a statement.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo