This week, the United States Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor of increasing military spending by $700 billion, pouring even more money into by far the most expensive military in the world and exceeding military funding from any time during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. The U.S. Military budget is larger than the next nine most expensive countries combined, and this new budget now makes it ten countries.
Though both political parties are abrasive toward spending on social programs, from expanding the social safety net through policies like single payer healthcare, to boosting welfare, medicare, and social security, military spending receives little resistance, even in the wake of a massive accounting error at the Pentagon in which trillions of dollars are still unaccounted for. The spending increases continue a trend of enormous military spending set under the Obama Administration, in which the United States’ military budget was the highest its been since World War II.
89 Senators voted in favor of the bill that increased spending than what even Trump’s Administration proposed for programs in funded in the bill, from North Korea defense missile systems to new ships and aircraft. The bill provides funding that far exceeds what is reportedly saved by kicking 32 million people off of healthcare through the proposed Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal efforts. The Intercept reported it would take just $80 billion a yearto provide enough funding to enact free public college tuition across the country. But instead these policy proposals are dismissed or attacked with fear mongering, baseless rhetoric to frame them as intangible and too expensive. Pundits, think tank fellows, and lobbyists jump through hoops trying to come up with ways to discredit social welfare program proposals as far too ambitious, or down right socialist, to try to delegitimize them. Imagine if the same scrutiny was applied to military spending, but when it comes to funding war, the funding source is never up for debate.
Its disturbing how unanimous support is for significant boosts in military spending are compared to making investments and providing funding into a healthcare program that millions of Americans depend on to survive. Though there is no shortage of virtue signaling or criticisms toward universal healthcare proposals on the potential costs, often ignoring the savings yielded in return, when it comes to war, few elected officials are willing to challenge the military industrial complex. It also reveals a lot about the Democratic Party, who has branded itself on the Trump Resistance, yet poses virtually no resistance for boosting funds for the military that Trump and his administration presides over.
Only 8 Senators voted against the military spending boost, compared to 89 who voted in favor of it, a rare instance of bipartisanship in a highly polarized political climate. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bob Corker (R-TN), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Mike Lee (R-UT) were the only votes against the spending increase.
This bipartisanship is reflective of special interests and war hawks who profit immensely off military spending, rather than representative of the interests of American voters. In 2017, weapons manufacturers and the Defense Industry have continued pouring millions of dollars in campaign contributions to both Republicans and Democrats. While less than 10 percent of Senators opposed this drastic boost in funding, several polls conducted over the course of the past few years affirm that a majority of voters support cutting military spending rather than adding to it. The military budget is just one prime example of how congress reflects the interests of corporations and wealthy donors, while ignoring and in many cases starkly opposing the interests of voters.