How can I help cut the military budget by 25 to 50%

December 3, 2013

Now is the time to pressure Congress for shifting our resources from the military to human needs. We compelled their attention on Syrian missiles; they listened; and they know we were right. The case for talking with, rather than bombing, Iran grows stronger by the day. Drone strikes have been scaled back. And, yet, the White House is pushing for another decade in Afghanistan, and Congress is not resisting because we aren't forcing Congress to act. The lesson of the Syrian Missile Crisis is that we have power when we speak up en masse. Congress members are home now, just as they were when the missiles were being primed. Now is the time to tell them in person. Now is the time to go to the root of the madness of militarism: the budget. If we can make them cut the military budget, and then point out that the sky hasn't fallen, bigger and bigger cuts may become possible. It's our best hope, and momentum is in our favor.
Senator Patty Murray is the lead negotiator for the Senate on the December 13 budget resolution. Call her office to tell her that we need deep cuts in military spending - much deeper than required under sequestration. Phone: (202) 224-2621 Toll Free: (866) 481-9186

The next steps, outlined below are to Educate and Mobilize your Community and Pressure Congress

Details on the next steps:

Educate and Mobilize your Community
1. Widely circulate the links to the petition and sign on letter (sign here) to your friends, co-workers, neighbors.

2. Ask community, faith and labor organizations to sign on to the letter. Or to write their own letter in their own language. Highlight their issues. Many organizations shy away from taking a stance on military spending - but since the military gets 53 cents out of every discretionary dollar in the federal budget, if we don't cut the military, their cause won't get the funds they need. Many group leaders underestimate the public support for cutting the military budget.
The Hill. Feb. 25, 2013, Forty-nine percent of respondents said they would support cutting military spending, while just 23 percent said they would support slashing Social Security and Medicare. The Washington Post/ Bloomberg News Poll, October 6-9, 2011. 51% support reducing military spending in order to reduce the nation’s budget deficit. Americans on average want to reduce military spending by 18 percent.

3. Write letters to the Editor. See this sample. Write a longer op ed, Do radio and TV talk shows.

4. Organize local media events. Be creative. On Tues. December 10, International Human Rights Day, the campaign will deliver the letter and petition to Congress. Organize your own local media event drawing on this campaign and what you're doing locally.

5. Work with other peace groups that are working to cut the military budget. Also urge them to pressure Congress to enact deep cuts - many just focus on public education or work on particular issues.
 

Pressure Congress
Meet with your local Congress members and ask them to both support deep cuts (25 to 50%) and to take leadership. It is not enough to preserve the cuts under sequestration (about a 5 to 8% cut). You can also hold a rally or media event (e.g., in front of their office) or organize call ins or letter writing. Find Congressmember.

Check which committees they are on, The most important is the budget conference committee created by the deal to end the government shutdown. The committee will present a framework for the budget for adoption on December 13; if final action is not taken by Jan. 15, another shutdown occurs. (Members listed at the end). Defense and various budget committees also have more say. But any Congress member can show leadership and push an issue - don't let them claim that they can't act. (Funny they never argue that they don't really have any power when they run for office.)
Steps. individual Congress members can take:

1. Circulate a sign on letter to other members of Congress calling for deep cuts. Cong. Barney Frank and Ron Paul got 50 of their colleagues to sign on to a letter calling for a 25% cut. They're both gone from Congress. Who will replace them? (There was a bipartisan mix of co-signers.)

2. If they are not on the Joint budget conference committee (listed below), ask them to lobby members who are. Ask them to get back to you with the response.

3. Ask them to vote against the National Defense Authorization Act which has passed the House and is now in the Senate. It supports too much funds for the military and many bad military policies.

4. Ask them to publicly speak out locally and nationally in favor of deep military cuts (e.g., write an op ed).

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~ Thankyou for being part of the campaign for a People's Budget,

Jill Stein, GSC President & David Swanson, GSC Secretary of Peace

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Members of the Budget Committee

On the Senate side, the conferees will be the full Senate Budget Committee:

Democrats – Committee Chair Patty Murray (WA), Ron Wyden (OR), Bill Nelson (FL), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Mark Warner (VA), Jeff Merkley (OR), Chris Coons (DE), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Tim Kaine (VA) and Angus King (I-ME)

Republicans – Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (AL), Chuck Grassley (IA), Mike Enzi (WY), Mike Crapo (ID), Lindsey Graham (SC), Pat Toomey (PA), Ron Johnson (WI), Kelly Ayotte (NH) and Roger Wicker (MS).

And on the House side, the conferees will be:

Republicans – House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (WI), Tom Cole (OK), Tom Price (GA), and Diane Black (TN). 

Democrats – House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (MD), Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (SC), and Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (NY).

For background information on the powers of a budget committee, see here.