President Trump has released some details of his budget proposal, and his priorities are crystal clear: he would take $54 billion away from human development and needs – a greater than 10% cut – and give it to the military.
But imagine if we instead did the reverse: what if we took $54 billion from the military, and gave it to human needs?
It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Cutting the military budget by $54 billion would still mean:
- A larger military budget than we had from 1987-2002: through four presidents, the end of the Cold War, the first Gulf War, and the dawn and death of grunge rock.
- A military budget larger than the average during the presidency of notorious military champion Ronald Reagan.
- And, it would still give us a military budget larger than the next six countries combined (China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, and France).
And there are perfectly reasonable ways to cut military spending. The Pentagon itself identified $25 billion per year in wasteful bureaucratic spending. The F-35 – which will cost over a trillion dollars and has never been used – isn’t doing anyone any good. And so on.
So, what about that $54 billion? What should we do with it?
Here are 9 things we could do with $54 billion instead:
- Cover 12 million people under the Affordable Care Act .
- Resettle 2.7 million refugees in the U.S. – enough for 32 years' worth under the stepped-up Obama resettlement rate.
- Create nearly one million infrastructure jobs.
- Pay the salaries for half the elementary school teachers in the United States.
- Send 1.6 million students to college for a four-year degree – for free.
- Insure 15 million adults through Medicaid.
- Fund Meals on Wheels (threatened with cuts in Trump’s budget) for 7,180 years.
- Fund the entire Environmental Protection Agency (at current levels) for 6.6 years.
- Buy a subscription to The New York Times for every U.S. resident age 18 and older – all 250 million of us.
Any one of those would make our country stronger. We might be dreaming, but it's a dream worth having.