Imagine what the U.S. could do with money given to the military

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Do you know where your federal taxes go? Maybe you’d choose for them to be spent on education, or maybe infrastructure, clean energy, affordable college tuition, veterans or science. The United States spends more on the military than the next 13 biggest-spending countries combined. One might wonder why, with our wars winding down, we need to pay 40 cents of every dollar to the military.

The president’s FY 2015 budget proposal has taxpayers spending $549 billion for military programs, a 5 percent increase over last year — that’s 57 percent of our federal discretionary budget. And this doesn’t even include war spending, which is part of a separate budget known as the Overseas Contingency Operations and has become a convenient slush fund of the Pentagon. This fosters all kinds of Pentagon waste, which includes billions in outdated and unnecessary programs. One such example is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Not only is it one of the most expensive weapons programs in history, it is overdue, over-budget and still doesn’t work. At a total cost of $1.5 trillion, imagine what that money could be better spent on.

On Tuesday, the American Friends Service Committee — PA Program, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the Coalition for Peace Action conducted a penny poll in Squirrel Hill. Passersby were given 10 pennies to “vote” where they would like their discretionary tax dollars to go: health care, transportation, education, housing, food, military and/​or veterans. Although a small sample, the 22 participants rated the categories the following way: education 27 percent, health care 25 percent, transportation 16 percent, food 12 percent, housing 11 percent, veterans 6 percent and the military 3 percent.

Imbalanced spending has consequences as we see in reduced food stamps, unemployment spending and lack of job creation. Let’s reduce bloated Pentagon spending and prioritize our income tax money to pay for what the American people really need.

Western Pa. Organizer
Coalition for Peace Action

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