Letter of the Day April 19: Defense spending | StarTribune.com

Monday’s article on the impact of automatic spending cuts (“sequestration”) by Congress is only the beginning of what we will be seeing. As former chair of the Higher Education Committee in the Minnesota Senate, I know the value of the University of Minnesota research efforts to the state’s economy. The $30 million to $50 million loss is more than significant. Why can’t Congress prioritize?

For example, year after year, Pentagon spending comprises more than half of the current discretionary budget, consuming the lion’s share of the funds Congress appropriates, and Pentagon spending has nearly doubled over the last decade. We can start with cuts to the oversized Cold War nuclear arsenal that many defense experts agree is an expensive, excessive relic of a bygone era. We must stop overextending our military with expensive wars that lack sufficient justification, public support or exit strategies.

In addition, the Defense Department should impose fiscal discipline by cutting programs that are unnecessary or unworkable and beset with cost overruns. And Congress must stop spending money for programs that military leaders don’t want.

In fiscal year 2012, Minnesota taxpayers spent nearly $10 billion for our share of the base Pentagon budget. My mother has Alzheimer’s disease, and I see the devastation this disease causes. Just imagine the amazing discoveries our researchers could make in this area and so many others with even a portion of those dollars dedicated to their research.

State Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul

via Letter of the Day April 19: Defense spending | StarTribune.com.