Christmas came early for military contractors as climate saviors got coal

Christmas came early for the nation’s military brass, who often get to spend without consequences from lawmakers who control their purse strings, and defense contractors, who benefit mightily from the taxpayer-funded largesse.

All that military spending still leaves Americans and the world defenseless against the looming apocalyptic threat of catastrophic global climate change, but congressional leadership is clearly addicted to campaign contributions from corporate polluters and other barbaric white-collar criminals.

It should be painfully clear that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) process is broken and ineffective since the U.S. Senate held no debate or votes on amendments this year but still added over 2,400 pages of non-defense policy to the legislation that gave the Pentagon a 25 percent raise compared with 2015 when we still had two active wars brewing.

In failing its fifth consecutive audit, remember, the Pentagon could not account for 60 percent of its assets, so handing buckets of money to the nation’s warlords feels like less of a responsible act than the behavior of madmen.

“Congress had a chance to assert its war powers and end U.S. assistance to Saudi Arabia in the Yemen War,” said Kelley Vlahos. “But President Biden helped to strangle the effort in the cradle and a vote in December was never held.”

After White House pressure, Sen. Bernie Sanders withdrew his resolution aimed at ending US complicity in the Saudi-led conflict.

Sanders withdrew his war powers resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition’s brutal war in Yemen in return for a promise from the Biden administration to work with him on ending U.S. support for Saudi aggression in the conflict, which has killed almost 400,000 civilians and left 23 million in desperate need of humanitarian aid since it was launched in 2015.

U.S. complicity in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises makes even less sense when one considers consistent evidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is no friend to the United States as illustrated by the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and causing OPEC+ to cut oil production just weeks before the midterms.

On the way out the door for the holidays, Congress passed a $45 billion assistance package for Ukraine— which is more than most states get in a year.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Washington, D.C. to thank the United States for its support and ask President Biden and Congress for tens-of-billions of dollars in even more assistance as his country continues to defend itself from Russia’s invasion.

The United States previously allocated $68 billion to Ukraine, so this $45 billion pushed total American spending up to $113 billion of U.S. taxpayer money since the war broke out.

U.S. assistance to Ukraine is more than every country in the world spends on its military, save for the United States and China.

The $113 billion is also nearly as much as the combined budget allocation for the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, and it’s almost as much as the $118.7 billion taxpayers will spend on medical care for all U.S. military veterans.

The financial system has not been repaired in the 15 years since the Wall Street bailouts but Sen. Patrick J. Leahy and Sen. Richard C. Shelby received wide bipartisan approval for their nearly $1.7 trillion federal government funding bill. 

The representatives and senators who passed an $847 billion defense budget with a 10 percent increase over last year and ignored more pressing domestic priorities are not merely bouncing around in their decision-making. They are in the service of corrupt corporations and the billionaires that own them because that is the source of their campaign contributions.

In 1972 incumbents had an average spending advantage of 3 to 2 over challengers, and it increased to 4 to 1 by June 2014 and about 5 to one but financial incumbency advantages are dangerous. In a healthy democracy, it’s essential for politics to be competitive.

The current fundraising arrangement exacerbates this incongruity.

In light of the over 100 million unemployment claims filed since the coronavirus expansion was enacted, and the millions of Americans struggling or unable to pay rent, asking working middle-class people for donations is insensitive and out-of-touch. 

The Federal Reserve has raised its key lending rate seven times this year and projected more interest hikes in 2023, which is going to produce layoffs rather than bring down prices that are gobbling up the paychecks of Americans who remain employed.

Billionaires and corporations they own spend millions on lobbying and campaign contributions that allow them to seek policy changes that put ordinary Americans at a financial disadvantage, but candidates who champion working middle-class people are unable to compete effectively.

How do you compete with those kinds of enormous funding discrepancies?

You don’t. The powers that be have rigged the system to prevent you from having any impact, but it is not impossible to fight back.

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