Economic Justice Task Force

An Economics Justice Task Force was formed in the midst of the 2008 financial crises. We examined the best thinking of leading progressive economists and comparing that to the economic proposals of the Obama administration, with the idea of shaping a model progressive-populist economic program that can be widely distributed through partner organizations (like PDA & DFA) and used as the basis for a new way forward with this administration, the Democratic Party platform debate and beyond.

A central point of our discussions was the negative impact large amounts of military spending have on our economy in general, and particularly by crowding out other much more positive kinds of government spending, for education, infrastructure, alternative energy, preserving the safety net, etc.

These are talking points to make when talking to prospective coalition partners about a campaign to cut military spending:

  1. Spending on military has less a stimulative impact to economy (lower multiplier effect by about half) than domestic spending. And creates fewer jobs per dollar spent. The reasons for that are:
    • Military contracts have huge profits taken off the top.
    • Military projects are capital intensive, as opposed to labor intensive.
    • Some military spending is overseas, and therefore has no positive effect on the domestic economy.
  2. Military spending does not have as its product an economically useful investment- Most domestic spending results in a social and/ or economic good. Such as a better educated population, a better transportation infrastructure, safer streets , a cleaner environment etc.
  3. U.S. Military spending is not just direct military spending, which is already bigger than all the countries of the world combined, but also includes the following:
    • Big part of the national debt, that we pay interest on, is the result of financing past wars going back at least to WW2, including Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and the huge arms build-up during the cold war.
    • Much of foreign aid is actually military spending.
    • Spending on nuclear weapons is buried in the department of energy budget.
    • Some of the Intelligence budget (total estimated at over $50 Billion year ) is for quasi- military purposes
  4. A significant amount of the weapons systems currently in the pipeline are essentially modernized version of cold war weapons which have no use in the current era.
  5. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are propelled by the interests of corporations and not in the true security interests of the US people. They are ill conceived and create more enemies than they kill or capture. They also employ huge numbers of military contractors who siphon big profits away from the domestic economy and often employ foreign nationals, as opposed to US citizen soldiers – who at least would get jobs that way.
  6. In order to pay for the positive things in the stimulus bill and president Obama’s budget (green jobs, education, health care, infrastructure etc.) without leaving a big debt for future generations to pay off, we need to cut unneeded/ wasteful spending. Since the military budget consumes almost half of all discretionary federal spending, and is well known for its waste and corruption it is the best place to start.

A campaign to begin changing this situation would include the following points:

  1. decreasing military spending in appropriate places will make us more, not less secure
  2. security is best achieved from a thriving and healthy domestic population, which huge military expenditures work against.
  3. we must provide adequate resources for soldiers returning from war.

Committee Contact:

John Katz