By Steve Vogel
Protesters with a 20-foot tall inflatable pink pig are set to demonstrate in downtown Washington Wednesday against wasteful Pentagon spending, but appearances aside, the group sponsoring the event says it opposes automatic defense budget cuts threatened by sequestration.
“Frankly, it’s a stupid way to govern,” said David Elliot, communications director for USAction, the group organizing the “Pull the Pork from the Pentagon” protest. “We absolutely support reining in defense spending, but you don’t do it with a meat cleaver, you do it strategically.”
Failure by Congress and the White House to reach a budget deal by Friday will trigger automatic cuts that could force the Pentagon to cut $46 billion from its budget this year, an amount that senior defense officials warn will force furloughs of hundreds of thousands of civilian workers and harm the U.S. military.
“This could hurt troop readiness, and nobody’s for that, not even lefties,” said Elliot.
The protest scheduled for 12:30 p.m. in front of the lobbying headquarters of defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin near L’Enfant Plaza is one of 34 events supposed to take place Wednesday in two-dozen states as part of a national day of action, according to the group.
Elliot said the group’s protest is aimed at defense programs, not defense workers.
“I concede it’s a messaging challenge,” he said. “We don’t want contractors to be furloughed and their families hurt, or to hurt the troops, or to have their benefits cut in any way.”
Elliot pointed to the F-35 fighter jet, built by Lockheed Martin, as an example of a program that should be cut. “Do we even need an F-35?” he asked. “We just fought two wars without it.”
“We have to stop paying for the things we can’t afford so that we can afford the things our families really need,” said USAction Program Director Alan Charney. “We have to stop this meat-ax budget-cut approach to our families and communities. Instead, we can pull the pork from the Pentagon and make millionaires and big corporations pay their fair share.”