No Pentagon Spending in the Build Back Better Agenda! Talking Points

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Background: As the Biden administration and Congress negotiate the Build Back Better agenda to invest trillions of dollars in U.S. infrastructure and communities, there are reports that some are pushing for the deal to include tens-of-billions of dollars in new funding for the Pentagon. Reps. Lee, Pocan, and Bush are leading a letter to Democratic congressional leadership urging that none of this much needed investment in U.S. jobs and infrastructure go to the already overfunded Pentagon.

Key Points:

  • The Pentagon is a bad jobs program. Dollar for dollar, investment in health care, clean energy, and education creates far more jobs than investment in the Pentagon.
  • The Pentagon budget is already three quarters of a trillion dollars per year, more than enough to address any real needs. The Pentagon does not need any additional funding — and if it did, that should be determined through the regular annual budget process.
  • This bill should be about righting our broken budget priorities and fixing decades of neglect of U.S. jobs and infrastructure. Providing more money for the Pentagon’s overstuffed coffers does the opposite.
  • Public investment should be used for public benefit, not enriching private contractors.

Messaging:

  • As our communities reel from long neglected crises of racism, inequality, unaffordable healthcare, pandemic, and climate crisis, extraordinary new investments like those in the American Jobs and American Families Plans are sorely needed. 
  • The Build Back Better agenda is a generational opportunity to revitalize aging infrastructure and invest in long-neglected social needs. Spending any fraction of it on increasing the Pentagon budget only undermines this valuable goal, wastes resources that could create more jobs elsewhere, and funnels funds to private contractors at the expense of the U.S. public.
  • Using critical funds to further inflate an already exorbitant Pentagon budget is exactly the opposite of fixing our misplaced priorities.
  • It’s also poor economic sense. For every $1 million, Pentagon spending only creates 6.9 jobs, while that same million would create 19.2 jobs in elementary and secondary education, 14.3 jobs in health care, and 9.8 jobs in clean energy. Spending money on the Pentagon takes away much needed jobs elsewhere. 
  • In some cases, there may be a need for military infrastructure modernization. But with an already oversized budget of $750 billion, there are plenty of existing funds at the Pentagon with which to do so.
  • Nearly half of appropriated Pentagon funds goes directly to private contractors. Executives from the top five Pentagon contractors made over $1 billion in collective compensation from 2017-2020.
  • Wasting vital infrastructure funds on the Pentagon amounts to a giveaway for these private contractors at the expense of the U.S. public.

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