Republicans in Congress approved military spending plans this week which include tens of billions of new dollars for the Pentagon. Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized the legislation, suggesting that the move represents the opposite of the America first style of governance President Donald Trump proposed on the campaign trail.
A $700 billion military spending bill approved by the Senate this week, which follows a $621 billion defense appropriation approved by the House, will increase current military spending by more than $70 billion.
Democrats have opposed the massive defense spending increases, noting that the huge chunk of taxpayer money could be put to good use taking care of underfunded domestic obligations.
“Foreign policy is about U.S. government budget priorities,” Sanders told a crowd gathered to hear him speak at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo.
“At the exact same time as the president and many of my Republican colleagues want to substantially increase military spending, they want to throw 32 million Americans off of the health insurance they currently have because, supposedly, they are worried about the budget deficit,” he added.
The Vermont lawmaker pointed to a speech delivered by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 to emphasize how spending on military projects undermines the government’s ability to do good at home.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed,” Sanders said.
“This world in arms is not spending money alone, It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway,” he continued.
And, despite his socialist leanings, Sanders is right.
While “conservatives” will often point to military spending as some budgetary sacred cow, throwing endless piles of money at the Pentagon is no less reckless for our deeply indebted nation than over funding failed welfare state programs.
If you have any doubt, Google “Pentagon accounting problems.”
Eisenhower also famously warned of how handing an endless supply of money would eventually bankrupt the nation by pushing it into a cycle of perpetual war and debt. He also was correct.