It made the headlines. I have not heard much of an uproar about it. Not even on Facebook. Maybe it happened too fast? It happened in one day.
There was anguish in the halls of Congress over the long lines at airports and the flight delays caused by the furlough of air-traffic controllers so Congress strapped on their jetpacks and with lightning speed let the Federal Aviation Administration off the hook. The bill that allows the FAA to override the strict sequestration rules and re-direct the funds within their budget shot through Congress like a Red Bull on steroids! No debate, not even the requirement to have the bill online for all to read. I even heard parts of the final bill were handwritten!
Well, this church lady wants to say: Isn’t that precious?
What’s next? Meals on Wheels? Or, will the old and impoverished be told to eat cake?
While attending Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington D.C. in early April, I went listened to the National Priorities Project and learned the defense budget is another place where the privilege of a few catapults past the interests of many. I don’t want anyone to be confused: Veterans benefits do not come out of the defense budget. If I had my way, I would take $1 billion out of the bloated $526.6 billion defense budget for veteran benefits!
As Christians we should be concerned that 57% of our discretionary funds go to the military. We should all care that the systems and institutions that make up the military have not had a successful audit in decades. This behemoth cannot account for the funds received, and they aren’t expected to.
We are told how defense expects to spend their budget. The proposed defense budget expects to spend “$1.9 billion for procurement of 21 V-22 ‘Osprey’ tilt-rotor aircraft, and $8.4 billion for 29 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.” We are so ready to go to war! We have proven to the planet over-and-over-and-over that we know how to war!
But, do we know how to do peace? What if we were to not do 29 of those Joint Strike Fighters? What if we did 15? Could we then invest in our children and the future of our brain trust by putting $3 billion into education? What about community education? If we did 15 instead of 29, we would still have $2 billion to put into feeding the hungry and housing the homeless. What could we do if we just built 6?
Why do I try to imagine solutions? My faith requires this (Micah 6:8). I have to care. I need you to realize that weak leadership is not providing us with what we require to move forward in sustainable ways.
So, I have an idea: Let’s make Congress eat in soup kitchens and sleep in their cars for a couple of days. If they had to suffer such impoverishment they would fix the problems so fast, our heads would spin! They would do it in a day! And, President Obama would sign those changes into law.
Inez Torres Davis is director for justice.