Your Nuclear Taxes
Despite news reports of “cuts” to the US military budget, your taxes still largely go to useless and dangerous weaponry. The 2016 tax pie chart shows that 45% of our tax dollars go to military spending. Of course, this is based on the known budget – The Pentagon’s hidden “slush fund” tops $60 billion a year, secret military aid adds billions more each year, and then there are unknown billions in any number of other Pentagon projects beyond any democratic oversight.
But the nuclear budget may be even more shocking. Cost estimates for the “modernization” of US nuclear forces call for $1 trillion over the next three decades (and when did the Pentagon ever under-estimate their spending?). Even worse than the wasted money, a key Pentagon goal for modernizing nuclear weapons is to make them smaller, less unwieldy, and thus more easily engaged. As retired Gen. James E. Cartwright, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the New York Times, “what going smaller does, is to make the weapon more thinkable.” Others have pointed out that the US nuclear plans violate the terms of the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires the US and other nuclear states to move towards nuclear disarmament. And still others warn that the nuclear buildup will lead to a new arms race between the US and other nuclear powers.
(By the way, Bernie Sanders has called for abolishing nuclear weapons and is one of just three US Senators to support legislation calling for cuts in US nuclear spending.)
If an expensive, unnecessary and potentially planet-destroying new nuclear arms race isn’t enough to make you wish your tax dollars were going to anything but the US government, check out these 10 most wasteful Pentagon programs, by Professor Charles Steifer of the University of Baltimore School of Law. Included are projects like a $640 million coast guard cutter that the Coast Guard says it doesn’t need; $1 billion for a Navy destroyer the Navy didn’t ask for; and $90 billion plus for new nuclear submarines, from a “non-budgeted” Pentagon spending fund that gives the department just another way around democratic oversight. Happy tax day!