As we end the longest period of war in our history, we should be entering a period of postwar downsizing - but what about the communities dependent on the massive post-9/11 military budget?
End wars. Shrink the Pentagon budget. Reinvest the savings in neglected domestic priorities. It’s a logical progression. Right?
Yes, though we’d be fools to expect too much logic out of our current federal legislature. As we end the longest period of war in our history, we should be entering a period of postwar downsizing—the first since the end of the Cold War. And we are, though it’s been driven as much by budget squeezing generally as by a sense of postwar possibility.
And it’s a shallower defense downsizing than the last one. And the December 2013 budget deal will make it even shallower.
But communities that have been living off post-9/11 military budget surges are beginning to feel the effects of this (so far) modest shrinkage. This is the moment to deepen the defense downsizing, and make it endure. An essential piece of this task is to focus on helping communities and workers build alternatives to dependency on building weapon systems we don’t need.
Here is IPS’ comprehensive strategy for building this alternative economic foundation, linking action at the federal, state and local levels.
And here are two of the most exciting developments pushing this forward. They look like the sturdy supports of a movement to me.
State commissions planning for diversificationConnecticut—one of the most defense-dependent states in the nation—is providing one new model for action. In May of this year, peace, environmental and faith groups joined with labor unions to push the legislature to pass “An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Future.” This vague-sounding law contains a visionary mandate: convene a broad-based Commission to come up with a plan to diversify Connecticut’s overly defense-dependent economy. This commission—made up of state economic development directors, legislators, representatives of business groups, the state AFL-CIO, and representatives of peace and environmental organizations—is beginning to meet and will reveal its plan by the end of next year.
Other states are following suit. Maryland will vote on a similar bill in its next legislative session. Wisconsin has one in the works. Activists are pushing the process in Massachusetts, Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota. It’s a growing movement that can become a model for the kind of postwar planning that needs to happen on the federal level.
New federal supports for local transition planningSince the 1980’s the Defense Department has housed a small office dedicated to helping communities plan an economic transition following a base closing or defense contract cancellation. As the Pentagon budget soared during the post-9-11 years, this office focused almost exclusively on the base closings-half of its mission. Now it is refocusing on helping communities adjust to defense contract losses with planning grants and technical assistance. This is explained here.
The Obama administration is beginning to expand this Office of Economic Adjustment, as it’s called, and turn it into a gateway for assistance from other federal agencies, including programs in the Departments of Commerce, Energy and Transportation, for communities in transition.
Local activists can work with their local public officials to put together broad-based community coalitions and use these funds to build models of peace economy transition. The more we do, the more lessons we learn about the best practices for doing it, and the stronger this foundation for a demilitarized economy becomes.
New Economy Transitions From the Bottom UpIn the face of federal legislative dysfunction, more and more progressive initiatives are coming from the state and local levels. The effort to build a peace economy, following the longest period of war in our history, is taking its rightful place in this constellation of progress from the bottom up.
Link to original article from Institute for Policy Studies
Miriam Pemberton is a research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. She co-chairs the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget with Lawrence Korb of the Center for American Progress.
Green = Most Legislators Oppose Fast Track, Yellow = Some Opposition, Orange = Oppose TPP, Gray = UnknownDeLauro 13 - Signed 2013 DeLauro/Miller letterPocan - Signed Freshman Letter Opposing Fast TrackW/M - Signed Ways and Means Letter opposing TPPGibson - Signed Rep. Chris Gibson letter opposing TPP SOPA - Oppose Stop Online Piracy Act - voted against Currency - Oppose Currency Manipulation (Signed Michaud Letter) Textile - Oppose changes to "First Yarn" (Signed Textile Industry Letter)
Let’s say that at the end of the day, liberals face a choice: Which is worse, extended sequestration or a Grand Bargain that cuts Social Security and Medicare in exchange for new revenues, as Obama’s forthcoming budget seems designed to secure?
The massive federal budget cuts that will start Friday as part of the "sequester" will damage our economic recovery and mean fewer services here in Southern Arizona. Strip away the conservative economic theories and party-line rhetoric and that's the reality we're facing.
Comprehensive immigration reform could go down as one of the most overlooked, overdue priorities Washington has ever let slide.
Washington, D.C. – This morning 107 House Democrats – a majority of the House Democratic Caucus – wrote President Obama urging him to reject any proposals to cut the Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits millions of American families depend upon.
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today highlighted the introduction by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.) of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, a bill to reinstate the law that protected women from domestic violence until the House Republican majority allowed it to lapse in 2011.
A coalition of more than 200 environmental and progressive groups is urging President Obama to nominate Rep. Raul Grijalva, an outspoken liberal, to be the next Interior Secretary.
Liberal House Democrats on Thursday warned Republicans and President Barack Obama that including a change to how the government calculates cost-of-living adjustments could serve as a poison pill for any fiscal deal.
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today released the following statement on the potential inclusion of a so-called chained Consumer Price Index feature in the latest floated version of a financial agreement: “Federal law has always prohibited Social Security from contributing to the deficit. Any talk of shrinking the program to ‘save money’ is flawed from the start because Social Security is not part of the national budget...."
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today released the following statement on the recent school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“When a man kills twenty children and seven others for no reason other than his own demons, the immediate human response is the same anywhere: deep pain, grief, anger and frustration. In the United States, unfortunately, such a tragedy carries an added weight because it is not unique.
Washington, D.C. – A report released this morning by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), originally requested by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), highlights billions of dollars in lost public royalty revenue from oil and gas extraction on federal lands and describes glaring shortfalls in the data publicly available on hardrock mineral extraction on those lands.
Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) today led 39 CPC members in introducing the Deal for All. The Deal for All presents the Caucus’ basic principles for resolving tax and budget issues Congress will need to address after the November election, and will serve as a framework for progressives during the negotiations.
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today released the following statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act:
Raul Grijalva, co-chair of the seventy-six-member Congressional Progressive Caucus and one of the most powerful liberals in America, is no poster boy for Washington protocol. When he and his wife, Mona, arrived for his swearing-in ceremony in 2003, a man in military uniform met them at the airport and addressed him as “Congressman.” Grijalva, elected to represent Arizona’s Seventh District, promptly got the giggles.
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva will host a press conference on Tuesday, March 27, to unveil a “friend of the court” brief in the Supreme Court’s Arizona v. United States case, which will decide the constitutionality of Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 law. The amicus curiae brief, co-signed by 67 of Rep. Grijalva’s House colleagues, argues that the law is unconstitutional because, as courts have held consistently, federal immigration law pre-empts any state-level standards.
The 2012 elections are an opportunity to turn things around here in Arizona.
The state's working people are sick and tired of the right-wing extremists who misgovern Arizona. Gov. Jan Brewer and the overwhelmingly Republican Legislature are at war against the people of Arizona.
When the president addresses the economy in the State of the Union, he needs to offer more than optimism, and I think he will. The conservative House majority is going to reject anything he offers sight unseen – that’s no secret – but that’s no reason for the president not to make a strong case to the country that he understands the problem and has a solution mapped out.
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) and Democracy for America, a progressive PAC, have endorsed Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Donna Edwards (D-Md.) in their 2012 reelection races.
Our guest on Newsmakers was Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He gives the House Progressives’ perspective on what’s next for deficit reduction, federal spending and legislative priorities overall, after the deficit "Super Committee" failed to come to an agreement. The Progressive Caucus said this week it will present its own plan for deficit reduction and jobs.
The Native American community has a long, troubled history with mining interests, and today that history is catching up with us in Arizona. From a new push for uranium mining at the Grand Canyon to the ongoing battle over Resolution Copper, it’s not too much to say my home state tribes are under siege.
Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison today released the following statement on President Obama’s job creation and deficit reduction plan:
CWA devised a simple plan for which they were uniquely suited: drag TPP out of the shadows and into the light - one city at a time - using a medium they understand intimately: Daily Newspapers!
Two CWA members - Dave Felice in Denver, CO and Madelyn Elder in Portland, OR have started the ball rolling. We just need to keep up the momentum leading up to a big day of petition deliveries in January.
Step 1 is to send an Op-Ed to your Daily Newspaper.
MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track
Pulic Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority
MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership
CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab
If your Senator(s) and/or Representative is not currently opposed to Fast Track, they may not completely understand all the implications. Nothing sends a stronger message to a Congressional member than a personal visit to a district office by a voter with a written request. Phone calls and emails are incredibly important but nothing gets attention like a personal visit. Our Educate Congress page has information and a sample letter. Print the letter, sign it, deliver it.