Of the 194 Democrats in the House of Representatives, 117 of them voted for the HR 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act, joining 227 Republicans to help the bill pass the House. Although the White House only requested (only!) a $58.8 billion increase from Obama’s 2017 budget, the budget endorsed by the majority of Democrats and nearly all Republicans added another $57.4 billion to Trump’s request, nearly doubling the proposed increased spending, for a total of $115 billion increase. This is an 18.7 percent increase! This news comes in the wake of the revelation that the cost of the F-35 “Joint Strike Fighter” program has increased by another $30 billion, making that disastrous war machine’s total cost an appalling $406.5 billion.
Congress’s choice in spending reflects the priorities of the U.S. imperialist state. The U.S. spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined, and it just increased that spending by another one-fifth. While part of this can be excused by the typical problems of pork-barrel spending and corporate corruption enabled by unrestricted campaign finance practices, the addition of so much extra money in a single year shows that Congress, including most Democrats, believe that war is the top spending priority. This Defense budget increase could be thought of as a $115 billion investment in the destruction and destabilization of other countries. It reflects a conscious choice to choose ending lives over saving and improving them.
Imagine what this country could for its people with $115 billion dollars of investment in education, health care, infrastructure. Imagine what problems could be solved by using that money to create and help instead of to murder, maim, and destroy. To give a few rough numbers for comparison: $115 billion would pay for 2,875 average county hospitals; it would pay for nearly 1,500 miles of high-speed rail or 48,000 miles of moderate-speed rail; $115 billion would cover the cost of fixing 45,000
structurally-deficient bridges; nearly 600,000 units of affordable housing could be built; an additional 11.5 million people could be covered by Medicare. It would cover the cost of funding and expanding countless under-budgeted education systems across the country. The fact that Congress chose to fund none of these programs is exactly why we need a People’s Congress of Resistance to lead a real, grassroots fight against the Trump Agenda, because only when the people are given power to solve the problems in their lives and their communities can those problems actually get solved.
The message sent by this vote could not be clearer: the interests of the millionaires in Congress are not the interests of regular people in the U.S. The politicians are beholden to corporate donors, deep-pocketed lobbyists, and a dangerous ideology that sees imperialist conquest as a permanent way of life. The fact that the majority of Democrats voted for this bill is only further proof that they cannot be trusted or relied upon to resist any aspect of the Trump Agenda at all – if anything they will enthusiastically add to Trump’s Agenda!