Day #3: Right-sizing the Nuclear Budget.
Experts and policymakers from across the political spectrum agree that there are billions of dollars in savings to be found in the budget for nuclear weapons and their related programs. In a time of fiscal austerity, our country needs to understand the full cost of these programs. To achieve this goal, Ploughshares Fund has become a leading voice in calls for transparency and accountability in the nuclear weapons budget.
The United States still has one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals – and spends tens of billions every year maintaining, modernizing and cleaning up this huge stockpile. Experts from across the political spectrum recognize that this is where needed budget cuts can be targeted without harming national security. Savings plans ranging from about $80 billion to $200 billion in cuts over the next ten years have been proposed by proponents including Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Democratic Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts; the Sustainable Defense Task Force and the Project on Government Oversight; the New York Times editorial board and the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus; and former Reagan Defense Department official Larry Korb.
Using our model of impact philanthropy, we bring together lawmakers and think tanks, military leaders and diplomats, all of whom agree that the US needs a more realistic nuclear strategy. With a clear strategy and budget transparency, policymakers will be able to make well-informed decisions about how to protect our security while also safeguarding our country’s fiscal health.
The security threats we face today are fundamentally different from the Cold War, which caused the United States to build a huge nuclear arsenal. Our military leaders have said that the national economy should be the number one priority for our national security. With that in mind, isn’t it high time we reassess the amount we spend maintaining these Cold War weapons? As Brigadier General John Adams opined in The Hill,
“Further nuclear arms reductions should eliminate weapons we don’t need, while retaining a strong and appropriate deterrent. In the process, we will free up resources to meet 21st century challenges.”
Momentum for aligning fiscal responsibility with U.S. nuclear strategy is growing, thanks to the efforts of Ploughshares Fund and others who believe in making sure our tax dollars are well spent. Now, we have to turn momentum into action.