The Pentagon's Budget Is Far Too Large - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Amy Perruso

Amy Perruso is an educator who represents House District 46 (Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, Launani Valley) in the Hawaii Legislature.

Budgets are moral documents, and as Congress begins the federal budget process this summer, we need to keep a sharp eye on the decisions being made with our tax dollars on Capitol Hill.

Here in Hawaii, we have had to make devastating cuts to higher education and have relied on federal funds to address our budget shortfall in this past cycle. We are likely to face a similar fiscal cliff in the coming budget cycle. Making cuts to vital programs will slow our economy and increase unemployment. And yet, while families, students and military veterans struggle, some members of Congress continue to pour billions of dollars into an already bloated Pentagon budget.

Overspending on the Pentagon means that critical state and local programs get squeezed.

Waves of graduates have exited universities and colleges only to face grim job prospects. Just half of recent college graduates are able to find full-time work in this economy. Many seasoned employees have been laid off or forced to leave their jobs due to the pandemic and now struggle to find well-paying jobs. And yet there always seems to be money for the Pentagon and its contractors.

In 2019, the United States spent $732 billion on national defense, which was more than the next 10 countries combined. Shockingly, this huge budget doesn’t include the costs of veterans affairs and health care. Additionally, the Pentagon cannot even pass an audit to show that it is using our tax dollars efficiently. A brief look at the Pentagon budget shows that many expensive programs are completely unnecessary — pork barrel projects that line the pockets of high-powered CEOs but do little to advance our national security interests.

There are smart, sensible reductions we can make now — such as reducing our enormous and expensive Cold War-era nuclear weapons arsenal and other expensive, ineffective weapons systems and programs deemed obsolete by Pentagon leaders. We cannot allow costly, unnecessary programs to continue to threaten programs that actually make the lives of people in Hawaii safer.

A streamlined, efficient Pentagon budget would certainly help to ease our economic woes brought about by the global pandemic. Numerous studies prove that Pentagon spending is a poor job creator compared to investments in other sectors, such as education and green jobs.

FILE - This March 27, 2008, file photo, shows the Pentagon in Washington. Military officials want to limit congressional efforts to address sexual assaults among service members’ children, even as new data show the problem is larger than previously acknowledged. Members of Congress demanded answers after an Associated Press investigation revealed that many reports of child-on-child sexual violence on military installations languish in a dead zone of justice. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Every year hundreds of billions of dollars go to the Pentagon in the name of national security. AP/Charles Dharapak

Still, some members of Congress persist, refusing to face the fact that cutting wasteful, unnecessary Pentagon programs will make our economy — and our national security — stronger. Our national security is strengthened by investing in our nation’s best asset — our people.

Congress needs to focus on creating jobs that will help us build a strong, vibrant, resilient economy by funding priorities like critically needed infrastructure, enhanced education, energy efficiency and new technology. Cutting essential services and jobs to allow even greater Pentagon and contractor spending is not the road to recovery.

As a state legislator, I believe we need a balanced approach to the budget that provides critical services for our community — public education, sustainable agriculture and public health — in a cost-effective way.

This summer, let’s keep the heat on Congress and remind them to invest in America’s workers and our economy to build a sustainable pathway to prosperity for future generations.

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About the Author

Amy Perruso

Amy Perruso is an educator who represents House District 46 (Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, Launani Valley) in the Hawaii Legislature.

Latest Comments (0)

One of yesterdays Pentagon contract awards.  A glorified Employment Agency not only for troops but for DOD civilians too!  And this $231 mil all goes to a contractor - not a nickel to the troops.  FWA.

MrOkakopa · 1 year ago

Maybe Rep. Peruso should be more focused on how the State Legislature is going to help Hawaii build a strong, vibrant, resilient economy, before worrying about the Pentagon. This summer, let’s keep the heat on our Legislators and remind them to invest in Hawaii’s workers and our economy to build a sustainable pathway to prosperity for future generations.

Zarf688722 · 1 year ago

Rep. Perruso is right. We simply cannot continue to fund the Pentagon at this level while our basic needs go unmet. Massive spending cuts are needed immediately, both to provide essential services to the people of our country, and also to prevent the runaway spending on bigger and better weapons. (And more excuses to use those weapons.)

Ramona · 1 year ago

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