Arielle Zionts posts the best graph I’ve seen all week: a simple bar chart comparing the ten-year cost of President Joe Biden’s three biggest pieces of legislation—the covid-fighting American Rescue Plan, the infrastructure bill, and the Manchin-foiled Build Back Better budget bill—with the cost over the next decade of military spending approved by our Democratic Congress:
Biden could help his cause by invoking Pentagon spending, but like other conservative Democrats he doesn’t seem to be interested in dragging military spending into the realm of ‘normal’ politics (thereby evading the normal critiques of government spending). As a result, social spending bills—despite being more urgent/relevant for everyday security than military spending—will continue to bear the brunt of austerity politics [Stephen Semler, “Biden’s Economic Agenda Is Half the Cost of Projected Military Budgets,” Substack: Speaking Security, 2021.11.22].
We shoot our economic and social health in the foot by sinking enormous sums of national wealth into tools to kill people and break things, tools whose best outcome is to lie around and rust, while fretting over relatively small investments in programs that feed and educate children, sustain families, and build roads and bridges and parks and other good things that can add value to our daily lives for years to come.
We could cut our military spending by half and still be spending more on bombs and bullets than China and Russia combined. We could use the savings to pay for President Biden’s Build Back Better plan and reduce the national deficit by over $200 billion a year. America would be more secure economically, and economic security is the surest basis of national security.