Have we become a welfare state for the military? In August 2018, Congress passed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act with overwhelming bipartisan support. It authorized $717 billion in military expenditures, a $98 Billion increase over the 2017. Only 10 senators voted against this bill; none from Iowa.

Why is this important?

First, the military budget translates into about $2,200 per person and not reflected in the taxes that we pay. Most is funded by new federal debt. The deficit for FY 2018 was $782 billion and is projected at $900 billion or more in FY 2019. Our grandchildren will be paying this for years to come.

Second, the military consumes 58 percent of total federal discretionary spending, all other programs are suffocated. Military funding is 81.5 times more than the budget for the EPA. Funding for transportation, mental health, food safety, education, and many other programs are cut, while the Pentagon goes unaudited and military contractors get rich.

Third, the only possible justification for our huge military is defense of our country from enemies outside our borders. We haven’t fought a defensive war since World War II. In the past 18 years, we have spent $6 trillion on our wars of intervention in the affairs of other countries; the safety of this country was not under threat. No longer are we a defender of freedom; rather we have become the bully of the world.

We can’t undo unnecessary wars we have fought; we can’t get the $6 trillion back, or take back the $717 Billion military budget for FY 2019. So, what shall we do about the Trump administration’s proposal for a $750 Billion military budget for FY 2020?

Iowan’s have the unique opportunity to influence whether our country takes the direction of peace or war. Presidential candidates’ stream through Iowa, and each should be confronted with the hard questions we have raised here. Many avoid the issue, unless pressed. Our two senators have a powerful voice, and Grassley has a unique background in military waste. Now is the time to tell them to rein in military spending and find peaceful solutions.

We must not entrust our financial and moral capital to the Military Industrial Complex nor turn our backs on peaceful solutions and diplomacy.

Steve Hanken


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