By Ross Wallen
More than a hundred activists, including USAction affiliate West Virginia Citizen Action Group, three Bishops and many coalition partners, gathered for an event with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Monday to talk about the fiscal showdown and progressive priorities.
Sen. Manchin came out strong in support of cutting wasteful Pentagon spending and he took to Twitter yesterday to reaffirm his position.
The event in West Virginia is one of dozens across the country where we’re asking key Senators to keep Pentagon spending on the table in the fiscal showdown negotiations. Nationwide over 10,000 USAction members have contacted their Senators and Representative in Congress to rein in runaway Pentagon spending.
USAction affiliate West Virginia Citizen Action Group was able to get Sen. Manchin on the record about reining in runaway Pentagon spending. Sen. Manchin was quoted by the Charleston Gazette as supporting cuts in the sequester of “$600 billion from the defense budget”.
“In 2001, the defense budget was a little over $300 billion. Now it is $700 billion. And we have two wars that we have not paid for.
“We spent $1 trillion in Iraq and have already spent $500 billion in Afghanistan. It was never our mandate to occupy and reconstruct those countries.
“We have a DOD [Department of Defense] that spends more than all the other industrial nations in the world put together,” Manchin said.
After the event WVCAG Executive Director Gary Zuckett was able to speak with Sen. Manchin personally and thanked him for both his leadership on passing the resolution to get our troops out of Afghanistan more quickly and for his statements at the event on keeping the military cuts on the table.
Media attending the event included TV 8 & 11, Public News Service – WV, West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the Charleston Gazette. An excerpt from Public News Service – WV:
Stephen Smith, director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, says the working poor do not have a lot of Washington lobbying muscle. Programs that help them often face the ax, he adds.
“One thing we know from experience is that cuts hit kids most. It is absolutely possible to balance the budget without hurting the most vulnerable.”
Congressional Republicans have been demanding deep spending cuts in programs, including Medicaid and Social Security. They’ve also defended tax cuts for the wealthy. A number of religious figures say those priorities are backwards.