As part of the annual must-pass military spending and policy bill (the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, or “NDAA”), progressive lawmakers have put forward a proposal to cut the massive $740 billion Pentagon budget by 10 percent.

With military spending at historically high levels, and with additional increases under President Trump, a ten percent cut is an overdue correction to the bloated Pentagon budget.

While the Pentagon will spend close to $74 billion this year on our endless war operations alone ($71.5 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations), a 10% cut to the Pentagon ($74 billion), could be reinvested in:

  1. Ending Homelessness: House every one of the more than half a million homeless people in this country with money to spare. That’s assuming an annual cost of $30,000 per person, in keeping with high-end estimates from the Urban Institute.
  2. Infrastructure Jobs: Create more than one million good jobs in cities like Flint, Michigan, building desperately needed new infrastructure.
  3. COVID testing: Conduct 2 billion additional coronavirus tests, compared to the 46 million done so far – that’s 44 times as many tests, or enough to offer six free COVID tests to every person in the United States.
  4. Racial Equity in Schools: Close the $23 billion funding gap between majority-white and majority non-white school districts.
  5. Free College: Fund free college educations for more than 2 million low income students, or the poorest ten percent of current college students.
  6. Clean Energy: Fund enough renewable energy to power almost every household in the US.
  7. Green Jobs: Create one million well-paying clean energy jobs, enough to transition nearly every worker in the traditional coal, oil, and gas sectors.
  8. Teachers: Hire 900,000 new public elementary school teachers, adding about nine new teachers to every public elementary school in the country.
  9. COVID unemployment relief: Send a $2,300 check to the more the 32 million unemployed Americans.
  10. Face Masks: Purchase enough N95 face masks for all of the 55 million essential workers to use one a day for more than a year.

A $74 billion cut is a strong step toward better spending priorities, and could make a tremendous difference in other programs ranging from health care and education to job creation at a time when it is desperately needed.

The House and Senate are voting on the NDAA this week. Where does your member of Congress stand on this amendment?


Lindsay Koshgarian directs the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. Follow her on Twitter @lindsaykosh. Ashik Siddique is a research analyst for the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. Follow him on Twitter @ahSHEEK.

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