Trump’s July 4th Fiasco a Salute to Pentagon Waste

July 10th, 2019 - by Ashik Siddique and Lindsay Koshgarian / National Priorities Project

Estimated cost of Donald Trump’s “Fourth of Me” extravaganza—complete with tanks on the ground and military flyovers—$1.2 million.

Trump’s 4th of July Fiasco Was a Salute to Pentagon Waste

Ashik Siddique / National Priorities Project

(July 3, 2019) — This year, President Donald Trump is turbo-charging Washington DC’s annual Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall into an even more garish extravaganza of US militarism than usual. 

The event is reportedly diverting almost $2.5 million from the National Park Service in order to cover just a fraction of the extra costs to the federal government, but that’s nothing compared to the cost of the advanced military weaponry that will be flaunted — which also happen to be some of the Pentagon’s deepest money pits.

The Washington Post reports that the Independence Day display will include Abrams tanks, which were earmarked nearly $600 million that the Pentagon didn’t request in FY 2018, despite being continuously singled out as wasteful by lawmakers and government watchdogs. $600 million is enough to provide a year of VA medical care for 58,073 military veterans, or healthcare for 253,089 children, according to our Trade-offs tool.

A flyover by an array of fighter jets is set to include an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, as well as Air Force F-22 Raptors, which represent some of the most egregiously over-budget weapons systems in the US military — a “flock of procurement fiascos” over Washington, as Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense called them in the Washington Post

Both of these fighter jets are among the obsolete, dangerous, or excessive weapons systems that the National Priorities Project includes in our Moral Budget’s proposal to slash the Pentagon’s bloated budget by $350 billion, which identifies $57.9 billion in annual savings from cutting unnecessary weapons. 

Annual costs for the F-35 jet fighter, which is notoriously plagued by flaws and safety issues, add up to $14.7 billion. That amount would pay a year’s salary for 181,881 elementary school teachers, or 4-year scholarships for 417,420 university students. 

The F-22 Raptor fighter jet program, which was so overbudget that it was cancelled in 2009 before being revived again by this administration, costs $3.9 billion a year. That’s enough to support a year’s salary for 52,649 jobs in clean energy — about as many jobs that currently exist in the US in coal mining. Or it could power 6.25 million households with solar electricity for a year, or 6.71 million households with wind energy — more than all the households in Pennsylvania.

Our government can more than afford to meet basic needs of the 140 million people who live in poverty, or are just one emergency away from being poor, in the richest nation in the world. But our representatives only think big when it comes to militarized spending.

The President is calling this year’s 4th of July celebration a “Salute to America.” Really, it’s just a salute to the power that private weapons contractors have over our federal budget.

It’s Time to Put People over Pentagon and Slash $200 Billion from the Military Budget

Ashik Siddique  and Lindsay Koshgarian / National Priorities Project
(May 24, 2019) — We all know America’s military budget is painfully bloated, with over $700 billion spent annually in ways that waste vast amounts of resources and make the world a more dangerous place for all of us.

It’s well past time to put people and planet over the Pentagon — and finally, the political winds might be shifting toward a sane and moral budget for all.

National Priorities Project is proud to join over 20 national organizations in a coalitionrepresenting hundreds of thousands of people to call on Congress to stand up to weapons industry lobbyists and military contractors and cut Pentagon bloat by at least $200 billion annually.

Redirecting $200 billion from the military each year would free up $2 trillion or more over the next decade for big, bold, and urgent people-first priorities like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal against climate change.

Even with such large spending cuts, the Pentagon’s budget would remain more than enough to keep America safe at a level well above our nation’s post-World War II historical average.

Remember, it is Congress, not the president, that sets spending levels for the Pentagon. More than ever, we need to put maximum pressure on our representatives to scale back on the mountains of money we’re spending on war.

This will not be easy. The military-industrial complex has slithered into nearly every congressional district in the country and spends millions of dollars a year lobbying for wasteful and unnecessary weapons. It will take the power of hundreds of thousands of people organized into one booming voice if we want to win.

It’s appalling that 140 million people live in poverty in America while our government spends more per capita on the military than any country except Saudi Arabia, and more than the next seven countries combined.

But a better world is possible, if we work together to make it so.

Read the full statement on Pentagon cuts and sign on here to our coalition’s national petition to end military waste and finally fund a budget that reflects our values.

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