In Washington, senators and Pentagon officials are saying the sky will fall if we cut one more cent from the military budget. But a very different message is building in the heartland.
Cleveland’s city council called on Congress last week to reconsider our national priorities, reduce military spending, and fund local services. The vote was overwhelming: 18 to 1. The city council cited a 10 percent state budget deficit. It mentioned the $518.4 million that Cleveland taxpayers will send to the Pentagon this year. It listed the teachers, firefighters, police, healthcare, scholarships, and renewable energy programs that tax money could be funding instead.
San Francisco, Richmond, California, and Charlottesville, Virginia passed similar resolutions in the first two months of this year. Los Angeles, Hartford, Durham North Carolina, Portland, Oregon, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed their own “bring our war dollars home” resolutions in 2011.
The public agrees. In mid-February a CBS News/New York Times poll asked, “would you rather cut military spending, Medicare, or Social Security?” Three times as many people said “cut military spending” as “cut Medicare.” For Social Security it was four times as many. Republican voters favored cutting military spending two to one.
Community leaders, union members, religious congregations, and peace groups worked together to pass these city council resolutions. And more are on the way as joblessness and budget cuts bite deeper into people’s lives.
America to Washington: Cut the Pentagon and fund our communities!
Mike Prokosch, an OtherWords contributor, is the national coordinator of the New Priorities Network. newprioritiesnetwork.org
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