By Deseri Tsepetis

Your favorite local businesses are reopening. Maybe even the local restaurant you’ve been ordering takeout from is finally allowing you to sit down and have your favorite meal. Americans have been impacted greatly by Covid-19, and the fight is not over. Whether you agree that the economy should be reopening up or not, there’s a big question of where the money to survive will come from. Whether you’re a small business or one of the many families who lost an income because of this pandemic, there’s a question of whether another stimulus check is going to arrive. With the government spending $2 trillion on the last stimulus check, there’s questions on how to pay for that, let alone another package. Here’s an easy solution: cut the Pentagon budget.

This pandemic has only exacerbated the issue many Americans were already facing. Support for these families and small business is dire to the United States going. The first stimulus package was completely necessary, but most Americans aren’t out of the hole yet. More than 130,000 Americans have died in this global pandemic so far, most Americans would agree that is the most immediate threat we are facing right now as a nation.

Our nation’s budget is supposed to reflect our nation’s priorities, what does the current budget say about protecting our citizens from the pandemic? According to Brown University’s Costs of War project, the United States has spent $6.4 trillion on wars since 2001. The U.S spends more on its military than the next seven countries combined, yet this year’s budget request included 741 billion dollars in Pentagon spending. This is an enormous number, and money that could have been used to help Americans. The defense budget has also been long considered opaque and has consistently failed any independent audits. The Overseas Contingency Operation continues to operate as a slush fund and both sides of the aisle argue it needs to be ended. It originally was included solely as a padding for the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and now is being used as a pocketbook for the Pentagon. This year alone the administration requested 69 billion dollars in OCO funding .

This year’s National Defense Authorization Act was recently voted on in the House and the Senate. The NDAA essentially dictates Department of Defense spending for the 2021 fiscal year. Senator Sanders (VT) proposed an amendment that calls for 10% cuts to the budget. An equivalent bill was introduced in the House by Representatives Pocan, Lee and Jayapal. This is an incredibly important time to address wasteful Pentagon spending when our nation needs these funds the most. Our nation’s budget reflects our nation’s priorities. A government’s job is to protect its people and right now, our government is failing to do that, if the government wanted to protect Americans it’d put money towards the pandemic not defense. As more and more Americans are getting sick from covid-19, now is not the time to be freely throwing money around. Americans need to call their representatives to ask why they did not support the amendment introduced by Pocan, Lee, and Jayapal to cut the spending by 10% or call them to thank them for supporting it. As well as call their Senators offices to thank them for supporting Sen. Sanders amendment or ask them why they didn’t support it. This should and can be a bipartisan effort to free up funds to help support Americans during an unprecedented crisis.

Deseri Tsepetis, Long Island Organizer and Programs Associate – Peace Action New York State/Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives