Biden may push the military budget above $800 billion. Do you feel safe yet?

Clouds of tear gas over crowds breaching the US Capitol on January 6, 2021

A crowd breaches the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The U.S. has problems.

The country is slowly emerging from the Omicron variant surge, but the pandemic is far from over, and the pandemic threats keep morphing. Recently a hospital in Oklahoma had to lock down due to threats grounded in COVID-related disinformation. 

A group of truckers have vowed to bring Canada's trucker blockade (funded in part by the U.S. far right) back to the U.S. next week, in a far-right mobilization with echoes of January 6, 2021.

Extreme weather events have grown so severe that scientists have proposed a new term for them: “super-extreme”.

And more than seventy percent of people in one poll said the U.S. was on the wrong track, pointing to problems like inflation and serious risks to democracy.

Meanwhile, the White House reportedly is preparing to offer a new Pentagon budget request that may surge to more than $800 billion.

Somehow, I’m not feeling any safer.

The rumored Pentagon request is $60 billion more than the last Pentagon budget under President Trump (in FY 2017). And it doesn’t do a thing for the host of scary problems we’re facing.

It also makes no sense given that President Biden finally ended the U.S.’ longest war (barring the Korean war, which hasn’t officially ended, but has been on pause for decades). Most often, the end of a major war results in a decline in military spending, but not this time.

Congress deserves a big heaping helping of blame here, too. After Biden last year proposed a military budget of $753 billion ($13 billion above the last Trump budget in FY 2017), Congress one-upped him and raised the total to $778 billion for FY 2022. And that may increase further as Congress hammers out final budget details. 

There’s never a shortage of money in Washington when it comes to the Pentagon. So where’s the money for the president’s deeply endangered Build Back Better initiative that was all about helping families get by with child care, health care, and basic necessities, while at least beginning to address our climate woes? 

Hawks will argue that the U.S. must address threats like China and Russia. But while there may be legitimate reasons for concern with each of those countries, that doesn’t mean the Pentagon needs a bigger budget. The problems those countries present require diplomacy, not war.

They’ll also argue that inflation will harm the Pentagon (and its contractors). But if inflation presents problems for Pentagon contractors, isn’t it a bigger problem for struggling families? The Pentagon budget has been so excessive, for so long, that inflation should present a welcome opportunity to make long overdue cuts.

It’s unconscionable to pour more money into the Pentagon while the country comes apart at the seams. There’s still time for the Biden administration to pull back and stop the endless spending, just as it made a major step toward ending our endless wars.