Charlottesville, Va., City Council Monday evening, March 20, 2017, passed a resolution opposing President Donald Trump's budget proposal, which shifts funding to the military from many other programs. The draft resolution brought up for consideration reads as follows. It was passed with a few alterations. The final version should soon be posted online by the City, as should video of the meeting in which it was read aloud and discussed.
Fund Human and Environmental Needs, Not Military Expansion
Whereas President Donald J. Trump has proposed to divert $54 billion from human and environmental spending at home and abroad in order to increase the military budget, bringing military spending to well over 60% of federal discretionary spending; and
Whereas the citizens of Charlottesville already pay $112.62 million in federal taxes for military expenditures, an amount that each year could fund locally: 210 elementary school teacher salaries; 127 new clean energy jobs; 169 infrastructure jobs; 94 supported employment opportunities for returning citizens; 1,073 preschool seats for children in Head Start; medical care for 953 military veterans; 231 college scholarships for CHS graduates; 409 Pell Grants for Charlottesville students; healthcare for 3,468 low-income children; enough wind power to power 8,312 households; healthcare for 1,998 low-income adults; AND solar panels to provide electricity for 5,134 households.
Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program; and
Whereas our community’s human and environmental needs are critical, and our ability to respond to those needs depends on federal funding for education, welfare, public safety, and infrastructure maintenance, transit and environmental protection; and
Whereas the President’s proposal would reduce foreign aid and diplomacy, which help to prevent wars and the victimization of people who become refugees in our community, and 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing these cuts;
Be it therefore resolved that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, urges the United States Congress, and our representative in particular, to reject the proposal to cut funding for human and environmental needs in favor of military budget increases, and in fact to begin moving in the opposite direction, to increase funding for human and environmental needs and reduce the military budget.
1. "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update," Political Economy Research Institute,https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update
Passage of the resolution followed the proposal of a different version by a large coalition of local groups.
At Monday's meeting, the resolution passed by a vote of 4-0, with one abstention.
City Council Member Bob Fenwick, a veteran of the U.S. war in Vietnam with two sons veterans of that in Afghanistan, said that cutting back on military adventurism makes people better off. "We have had enough of war," he declared.
City Council Member Kristin Szakos drafted the resolution version above.
Also voting in favor were Council Members Wes Bellamy and Kathy Galvin.
In my view, this is an important statement to Congress, the country, and the world from our city council which has chosen to represent us. Charlottesville did not make a familiar and misleading statement exclusively against spending cuts, which would have fueled predictable and irrelevant demands for smaller government. Charlottesville addressed the reality of money being moved from everywhere else to the military, and urged the deeply moral action of moving money in the opposite direction.
It's worth noting that the assertion that military spending is an economic drain is a reflection of the fact that tax cuts produce more jobs than military spending. Military spending produces fewer jobs than does never taxing money in the first place. The study cited above does not, of course, assert that military jobs do not exist.