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."
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
Community Action Partnership
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Foreign Policy in Focus
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
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
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
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
The United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society
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
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
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
PathWays PA/Holmes, Pennslyvania
Epiphany House, Inc./Lansdowne
Campaign for Working Families/Philadelphia
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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