The Common Good

Cut the Deficit--Cut Military Spending

Sojomail - February 4, 2010



QUOTE OF THE WEEK

My parents grew up and carried the scars of racial segregation. I didn’t want to see my children have to face the same problem. We just felt that this certainly was a time to act. If not now, when? If not my generation, what generation?

- Joseph McNeil, now 67, one of four students who sat-in at a Greensboro, NC, lunch counter 50 years ago Monday, sparking the civil rights movement of the 1960s. (Source: USA Today)

+ Sign up to receive "Verse and Voice" -- our daily quote and Bible verse e-mail

Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

Cut the Deficit--Cut Military Spending

Get a free trial issue of Sojourners Get a free issue of Sojourners
Donate to Support Sojourners
Donate to support
Sojourners

President Obama’s 2011 budget, submitted to Congress this week, totals $3.8 trillion and projects a deficit of $1.6 trillion. And while analysts have had only two days to dissect the massive document, the president’s priorities are clear: jobs and the military. The biggest problem he faces is the rapidly growing deficit.

With the economy still in recession and unemployment still at 10 percent, the domestic priority is clearly job creation. The budget includes a $100 billion jobs program, with substantial amounts targeted to tax breaks for small businesses in order to stimulate job creation. Also included are tax credits that assist lower-income workers with expenses such as child care, which make it more possible for them to find employment.

And despite the administration’s plan to enact an overall freeze on discretionary domestic spending, it appears programs that focus on low-income and poor people were increased. Bob Greenstein of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said in a statement on the budget that “Contrary to fears expressed last week that the President’s proposed freeze on total non-security discretionary funding would provide inadequate support for education, for vulnerable Americans, and the like, the budget actually does well in these areas.” It appears that major programs in nutrition, housing, education, TANF, etc. all are higher than last year.

But as usual, the sacred cow that cannot be touched is the military. First, a thanks to the administration for having the honesty to include the funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the budget, rather than waiting several months and then coming back with requests for supplemental funding as has been the practice in past years. Let’s at least know up front what we’re dealing with. In round numbers, the military budget includes an operating budget of $549 billion, plus funding for the two wars at $192 billion (including an already planned request for $33 billion this spring), for a total of $741 billion.

I, too, am concerned about the rapidly growing deficit. While some degree of deficit spending is necessary in a time of severe recession, it is growing so fast that it threatens our future and our children’s futures. Last night, I ran into David Walker on the Amtrak train coming home from Philadelphia. We are both on book tours, and his new book is Comeback America: Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility. David and I had talked over the holidays, but now we had the chance to sit down and have a long train conversation about this topic. He is also concerned that the deficit not be cut on the backs of our poorest people and that the most vulnerable be protected. And he also thinks cutting excessive and wasteful military spending must be part of the solution. So here’s a suggestion: Let’s start with the military.

In a preliminary analysis of this budget, Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, and other defense experts said that:

A close analysis of the FY 2011 defense budget reveals that it does not go far enough to impose real fiscal discipline on our defense spending ... There are a number of reasonable cuts that could be made to this portion of the budget without sacrificing national security or undermining our troops.

Congressman Barney Frank was also at Davos and told me that he is proposing a 25 percent cut in the military budget. He said he will need help from the faith community. I support his effort, and we will be saying more about it as details emerge.

The wars we have been fighting are a huge part of the massive deficit we now face, wars that I have also challenged on many other grounds. It’s time to stop subsidizing the shameful profits of the “military industrial complex” that former President Eisenhower warned us about long ago. I personally would favor spending more on the returning veterans who are too often abandoned when their service is over. But cut the defense contractors who serve their own profits much more than any true idea of national security. Protect the veterans, cut the contractors. Now there is one way to attack the deficit.

We in the faith community say we subscribe to the biblical injunction to “beat our swords into plowshares.” So let’s be in the middle of the budget deficit debate and push hard for the right priorities. As David Walker and I agreed last night on the tracks between Philadelphia and DC, this is a moral question.

+Click here to tell President Obama: Budgets are moral documents -- cut our military spending.

E-mail E-mail this article to friends
Facebook Share this article on Facebook
Comment Comment on this article on the God's Politics Blog


INSIDE SOJOURNERS MAGAZINE

Haiti: Living and Loving Through Tragedy

edwidge-danticat“Like millions of other Haitians in and outside of Haiti, I was nearly out of my mind with worry. Everyone has seen the images. The fallen buildings. The dead bodies covered with sheets on the street. The amputees. We have also seen the resilient Haitian spirit. In their worst hours, people were singing. The world is more intimately acquainted with that Haitian spirit than it has ever been in the past. The best of Haiti has been on display, even as the country continues to suffer.”

-- Edwidge Danticat, in the March issue of Sojourners. Click here to receive the March issue as a free trial-subscription.



BUILDING A MOVEMENT

Ecumenical Advocacy Days

From March 19-22, come to Washington, D.C., for Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2010, joining hundreds of faith-based advocates seeking legislative action on issues of global injustice. The weekend event is titled, “A Place to Call Home,” and will focus on welcoming immigrants, protecting refugees, and preventing millions of people from being displaced.

“Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). Jesus had no place to call home, and nor do tens of millions of migrants, refugees, and displaced persons. How will you stand up for them? Find out more -- and register now for a special Early Bird Rate, which ends on February 17 -- at AdvocacyDays.org.



ON THE GOD'S POLITICS BLOG

+ See what's new on the blog of Jim Wallis and friends

Obama's Call for Civility Amid Prayer Breakfast Controversy
by Jim Wallis

This year's gathering had become more controversial than usual because of allegations that some members of the sponsoring organization, a loosely affiliated network of Christian leaders known as The Fellowship (or The Family), had connections to Ugandan lawmakers advocating imprisonment and execution of homosexuals.
+ Click to continue

Family Research Council: Homosexual Behavior Should Be Criminalized in America
by Brian McLaren

Even if you're worried about slippery slopes when it comes to human sexuality, I think you'll agree: there's another slippery slope that's equally easy to slide down, and that's the slide into the kind of Pharisaical religiosity that attempts to make people behave "morally" through the threat of exclusion, intimidation and legislation.
+ Click to continue

Consuming our Way to Compassion
by Rachel Anderson

"Help us raise $10 million for Haiti!!!" My friend Laura forwarded me this email along with a note: "the subject line enticed me. Then I realized that it was a credit card offer."
+ Click to continue

The Soul of Davos: Oxymoron?
by Margaret Benefiel

The world economic crisis has awakened leaders to the importance of placing values at the center of discussions about the economy. May world business and government leaders take their cue from Davos and continue the conversations, giving values a central role in their debates.
+ Click to continue

Greening the Winter Games
by Tracey Bianchi

The issues Coke faces in Vancouver, granted on a large scale, are not all that different from the challenges many of us ever-greening folks find each day. We are seeing with Coke the sort of system management and conflict that happen in a million ways each day for many of us.
+ Click to continue

Video: David Bazan's Reasonable Doubt
by Jeannie Choi

It just dawned on me -- I couldn't really trust the leaders of this movement to be intellectually honest. They were just trying to stack the deck so that they could get a leg up in the cultural battle ?
+ Click to continue

'I don’t live for the Jesus who eats red meat, drinks beer, and beats on other men.'
by Eugene Cho

Several weeks ago, I had an extensive phone interview with a reporter from The New York Times about the growing popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the wide and nebulous net of "evangelical churches." My hour interview was basically reduced to one quote: "I don't live for the Jesus who eats red meat, drinks beer and beats on other men."
+ Click to continue

Video: Jim Wallis on Philly's Fox Morning Show
by Jim Wallis


+ Click to watch

Glenn Beck, Come Drink Some Kool-Aid with Me
by Zack Exley

I used to be just like Glenn Beck, only without the multi-million dollar TV show: I used to get attention by angrily, and humorously, attacking politicians. I'm ashamed of how I acted back then. And now, of all people, it's Glenn Beck who's attacking me on TV for it. Instead of "hitting back," which is what I would have done in the old days, I want to extend an invitation ...
+ Click to continue

Who's Succeeding at Making Churches More Multiracial?
by Michael O. Emerson

The rapid growth of multiracial large Protestant churches is a stunning change. At first I thought it must be a statistical error. But no matter where I checked, I found support for the story. How can we account for these changes?
+ Click to continue

Break the Chains of Haiti's Debt
by Hayley Hathaway

Over the last few weeks, we have seen an incredible international response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti. U.S. citizens are generously giving; the U.S. and World Bank have offered hundreds of millions of dollars as grants. One institution took a different approach: last week the International Monetary Fund approved a $102 million loan to the impoverished and already indebted country, effectively doubling the amount of debt Haiti owes to it.
+ Click to continue

Reinvigorating the Discourse on Just War and Pacifism
by Logan Laituri

As a former service member, I share the pain and guilt that often leads to suicide or severe depression, but I know that they will not have the last word. I know that the military as it exists today is a system that makes it difficult to do good and very easy to do evil.
+ Click to continue

Justice for Vieques
by Jim Wallis

On Vieques, a small island eight miles from the main island of Puerto Rico, God's children are suffering the effects of exposure to deadly toxins left behind by the Navy after more than six decades of weapons testing on the island.
+ Click to continue

Video: Phase Two of the Earthquake Response -- From Relief to Rebuilding
by John Engle


+ Click to watch

Israeli Peacemakers' Challenge to Americans
by Brian McLaren

Recently we had some particularly important conversations with Israeli Jewish voices. They agreed that there will be no change in Israeli policy until the U.S. decides to stop giving Israel a blank check. One older Israeli gentleman explained it like this: Some Israelis, of course, fully support the occupation and don't consider the human rights of Palestinians, and many others simply choose not to think about it. But quite a few feel a deep discomfort about what's going on.
+ Click to continue

50 Years Later: From a Sit-in to a Civil Rights Museum
by Becky Garrison

On Feb. 1, 1960, four African-American students sat down at the "whites-only" lunch counter at the F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro, North Carolina. As I child, I was told by my late father that he took his youth group to participate in these sit-ins. They joined hundreds of churches, students, civil rights organizations and community members joined forces until the lunch counter was desegregated on July 25, 1960.
+ Click to continue

Challenging Media Narratives on Haiti
by Randall Amster

A number of commentators have questioned the accepted logic that disasters bring out the worst in people, directly challenging the pervasive "looters run amok" imagery often perpetuated by the media ...
+ Click to continue

Israel and Palestine: People Aren't the Enemy
by Brian McLaren

It's not about choosing who the good guys and bad guys are, as our media so often portrays it (and sadly, as our religious leaders so often do as well). The struggle here is about people being held in various forms of bondage -- both occupiers and the occupied each in their own ways, and everyone needs liberation.
+ Click to continue

Can I Get A Witness (for Immigration Reform)?
by Allison Johnson

Several prominent evangelical leaders shared their regret for the absence of the white evangelical church in the major social struggles in recent U.S. history. They felt like the white evangelical church didn't "show up" during the civil rights movement or even during the last immigration reform debate, but it's clear they are standing up now.
+ Click to continue

Blurred Lines Between Military and Humanitarian Efforts in Afghanistan Raise More Questions than Answers
by Heather Wilson

Reported in a recent Times article, leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs), speculate that the militarization of aid in Afghanistan blurs lines between military and humanitarian responses, jeopardizing the success of projects and the lives of staff, wanting a return of all aid work to NGOs. And while I'd like to wholeheartedly agree, I wonder if, at least in part, the rules have changed.
+ Click to continue

Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove on Friendship and Leadership (Part 2)
by Multiple Authors

I see in myself and in others the tendency to do one of two things: Either to romanticize fame, becoming infatuated with it; or the opposite, to sabotage it and be suspicious as if notoriety were inherently evil.
+ Click to continue

SOJOURNERS IN THE NEWS

+ Sign up to receive our "Daily Digest" e-mail - the latest headlines on critical issues

Top Stories:

Religious leaders worry that Obama's faith council is for show
The Washington Post
Others, including Jim Wallis, leader of the progressive faith movement Sojourners, who has served on the White House council, said he hopes to see the president engage with the faith community on a much deeper level on domestic and foreign policy. "I want him to listen to faith groups as much as he listens to people on Wall Street," Wallis said. "I want him to listen to faith groups as much as military leaders on Afghanistan." +Click to continue


The State of the Union is Frustrating
Christianity Today blog
Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, agreed with the President's focus on job creation and called for a continued push for health care reform. Wallis, along with several other evangelicals, even signed a Faith in Public Life letter asking the President to press forward with health care reform. +Click to continue


Heaven Help Him
Newsweek
"We need a leader," Wallis told me, "to call not for incremental change but transformational politics. The president could do that. I think he still has it in him, but the American people don't perceive it." +Click to continue


Religious Leaders Urge Obama to Show 'Active Leadership' in Health-Care Debate
The Chronicle of Philanthropy
“We implore you to make it plain to all Americans that the decisions of Congress have moral consequences,” it says. “Letting this life-line lapse would be a failure of historic proportions.” +Click to continue


How Can This Crisis Change Us?
Wall Street Journal blog

Holmes: Time to withdraw from Bank of America?
The MetroWest Daily News

20th Century's Biggest Change in Evangelicalism
Beliefnet

Holy BlackBerry! Obama Finds Ways to Keep the Faith During First Year in Office
ABCNews.com

"Sojourners in the news" articles are the most recent news clippings that mention Sojourners in any way - whether favorably or unfavorably. Though we provide the text on our site for your convenience, we do not necessarily endorse the views of these articles or their source publications.




Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!






NEW JOINT APPOINTMENT AT PALMER/EVANGELICALS FOR SOCIAL ACTION. Professor of Public Policy and Christian Ethics at Palmer Seminary at Eastern University and Coordinator of Public Policy Programs at Evangelicals for Social Action. Job description.

Stickers! Magnets! Buttons! Show your stuff with pithy statements from Sojourners. Order yours today.

Scared of being ‘left behind’? What does Revelation really teach us? Explore this question with Sojourners’ four-part study guide, Christians and the Apocalypse. Use it this Sunday with your small group - available online. Click here.

New book from Jim Wallis - Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street -- A Moral Compass for the New Economy. Order here and a portion of your purchase supports Sojourners.

Order Strangers in the Land today, because greater justice leads to deeper faith. Take a six-week journey to get an in-depth look at immigration in relation to the church and the Bible. Click here.








Click Here!

GIVE TO SOJOURNERS: Donate now to support this voice for justice and peace.

GET THE MAGAZINE: Subscribe today

CONTACT US: General inquiries: sojourners@sojo.net | Advertising: advertising@sojo.net | About Us

PRIVACY NOTICE: Sojourners won't trade, sell, or give away your e-mail address. Read our privacy policy.