Move the Money 2015: Shifting Spending from the Pentagon to Local Priorities in New Hampshire

With NPP Intern Elizabeth Casey-Rutland

Photo by Doug Hall, National Priorities Project

For years there has been a striking mismatch between federal spending and popular priorities. And while this issue is not new, the budget recently passed by Congress would drastically cut spending on domestic priorities while shoveling billions into a Pentagon slush fund called the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund.

Someone must hold Congress accountable. From May through July, National Priorities Project staff together with partners from the Peace Action Education Fund will visit four states as part of our Move the Money training series, encouraging local communities to engage in the federal budget process, learn about current spending priorities, and develop strategies for how to change them. On Saturday we made our first stop in Canterbury, New Hampshire.

New Hampshire is no stranger to Pentagon spending. With over 4,600 workers employed directly by the military, New Hampshire also received $1.48 billion in defense in 2013.

For the many New Hampshirites who, directly or indirectly, draw their livelihood from Pentagon spending, the idea of cutting that spending no doubt feels threatening. If lawmakers cut Pentagon spending, would thousands of workers suddenly be out of a job?

While these concerns are legitimate, it’s worth taking a look at what could happen if that money were diverted to address some of New Hampshire’s needs in other areas. If money were diverted from Pentagon contractors to other important projects, New Hampshire could actually end up with more, not fewer, jobs. For example:

  • Money currently being spent on the Pentagon could also be diverted to improving the state’s public education system. Diverting $1.5 billion from Pentagon contractors to education spending could result in the creation of 23,250 new jobs.  
  • New Hampshire’s aging population will soon need increased health care resources. Moving  $1.5 billion from Pentagon contracts to health care could create about 9,000 new jobs.
  • If New Hampshire’s $1.5 billion in Pentagon contracts were invested in clean energy instead, we could expect to create 8,400 new jobs, while becoming more environmentally responsible.
  • Or, New Hampshire could invest in its crumbling infrastructure. Poor road conditions currently cost New Hampshire drivers more than $430 million a year in vehicle repairs. Improving these roads would put money back into the pockets of New Hampshire consumers and create jobs at the same time.

Moving the money from the Pentagon to local investment makes sense for New Hampshire’s people and economy. Participants in NPP and Peace Action’s training will work locally to make the case that not only can the U.S. and New Hampshire afford to move the money – but we can’t afford not to.


The Move the Money training series has been generously supported by the Colombe Foundation.