News Release

A Renewed Debate: Guns vs. Butter


The Joint Chiefs of Staff told a congressional panel Tuesday afternoon that the nation needs a substantial boost in military spending. But some policy analysts dispute those assertions. The following researchers are available for interviews:

A senior fellow of the World Policy Institute at the New School for Social Research and author of a recent paper entitled “The Military-Industrial Complex Revisited,” Hartung said: “A lot of this is politically motivated. The Joint Chiefs in the fall decided to break with Clinton, since he was in a weakened state. They gave a laundry list of what they wanted, while saying that his behavior with Monica Lewinsky would have gotten a military person dismissed. He told them he’d accommodate them and boost the roughly $260 billion per year they already got. They got $9 billion more last October. Now, Clinton wants to give them another $110 billion over the next six years, which would be the biggest increase since Reagan. Basically he’s caved big-time. He’s given the Joint Chiefs two-thirds of what they want and the Republicans want it all. There’s the perception that Washington has ground to a halt because of impeachment. But if things proceed without scrutiny, the military will eat into the domestic budget. They’re building all these unnecessary Cold War weapons and plan to fight two non-existent powerful enemies.”
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A research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Pemberton said: “Under the terms of the 1997 budget agreement, this proposed increase will put the squeeze on domestic programs. In addition, even this amount will not begin to pay for the new weapons systems that are already planned. Furthermore, the peace dividend was primarily channeled to deficit reduction and no substantial funding was shifted to such domestic priorities as the environment, health care, housing, education and transportation—all of which create more jobs per billion spent than the military.”
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The executive director of the Council for a Livable World Education Fund, a Washington arms control organization, Fonte said: “We think the readiness issue is a false one. The problem is that the military is asking for three new high-tech aircraft and a new attack submarine. We already have a stronger set of tactical fighters than anyone. It just isn’t necessary. The F-22, the Hornet and the Joint Strike Fighter were designed to get ahead of the Soviets in the Cold War. We don’t need one, let alone three. The U.S. spends 20 times more than what the Pentagon calls the ‘rogue nations’—Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, North Korea, and Cuba. If you fold in Russia and China, we spend at least twice as much as the eight combined. We also have allies and NATO, which are far stronger than any threat that is out there.”

For more information, contact the Institute for Public Accuracy:

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020 or (202) 332-5055; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167