To the editor: (Plain Press, May 2016) In less than a year, a new president of the United States will be inaugurated. The voters of Ohio will have a major role to play in determining who occupies that office.
Choosing a candidate for President should involve moving beyond rhetoric to an evaluation of concrete plans. The best clue for assessing what the President will actually do — once he or she is in the White House — is the kind of budget they plan to submit to Congress. What are their priorities, and how do they plan to pay for them?
One central component of any budget proposal will involve how much to spend on defending the nation. A number of candidates have called for sharp increases in the Pentagon budget, arguing that our military has “hollowed out” over the past eight years due to a lack of adequate funding. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The United States spends more on its military than the next fourteen countries in the world combined, many of which are U.S. allies. And President Obama has allocated more to the Pentagon than President George W. Bush did in his two terms in office.
The Pentagon’s $600 billion-plus budget is more than enough to address terrorism and other security threats facing our country, particularly given that tens of billions of dollars in current spending are being wasted.
The most wasteful programs involve buying enormously expensive weapons that we don’t need at prices we can’t afford. The biggest example of this is the ill-advised plan to spend over $1 trillion over the next three decades on a new generation of nuclear weapons.
One of the most questionable proposed expenditures in the nuclear sphere is the plan to build a new nuclear-armed cruise missile at a total cost of at least $25 billion. The United States already has thousands of nuclear warheads deployed on bombers, land-based missiles, and nuclear submarines. Developing yet another way to deliver nuclear weapons is not only costly and unnecessary, but it is also dangerous.
The funds freed up by eliminating the nuclear-armed cruise missile program could be put to far better use investing in our economy and meeting unmet domestic needs. In particular, Ohio needs to support municipal governments, local law enforcement, and public schools with these funds, rather than continuous levy campaigns which highly tax locals with no end in sight. Investing in an excessive nuclear weapons arsenal and other wasteful Pentagon programs shortchanges Ohio’s future.
Our beloved city of Cleveland has been identified as one of the most economically distressed cities in the U.S., our children are at risk from the debilitating consequences of lead poisoning, and we have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. These critical domestic issues demand our resources and attention because a more prosperous, healthy, and well-educated citizenry would be a positive development in its own right.
Getting our federal budget priorities right provides a solid foundation for the continuing safety and security of our country, and should be the top priority of our next President.
State Representative Nickie J. Antonio
Minority Whip Nickie J. Antonio represents District 13 in the Ohio House of Representatives, serving on the Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, Health and Aging, and Rules and Reference Committees. Antonio is the Ohio House State Director for the Women Legislators’ Lobby, a program of Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND).