February 21, 2013 – Thursday AM, a group of us peace activists braved the cold and went through the security checkpoint at the Federal Building in Grand Rapids. Molly Clements, Harold Beu, and Daniel Smith from Kalamazoo, and Mike Franz and Vern Hoffman from Grand Rapids were meeting with Paul Troost, aide to Senator Carl Levin. We met in his office on the seventh floor.
We brought a message to cut the military budget and redirect funding to human needs, a particularly timely issue as the Congress is talking about drastic cuts to vital services in the name of the sequester and the deficit.
We raised facts such as
– the size of the US defense budget being almost equal to the military budgets of the rest of the world combined
– at least 3 time as many jobs are created with investments in healthcare or education compared with war investments
– we have 1,000 bases around the world including 200 in Germany alone to guard against a non-existent Soviet threat
We spoke about how the mind set of our government must change from foreign military intervention in the affairs of other nations to one of diplomacy. We had a wide ranging discussion about the need to take care of homelessness, hunger, and gaps in healthcare and education.
Paul Troost was receptive to our comments overall. He would not commit Senator Levin to a $1 Trillion reduction over the next 10 years but did say there would be some reduction. He also thought the Senator would agree with looking at closing down some overseas military bases.
It was a worthwhile meeting and Mr. Troost pledged to forward our materials to the DC office. These types of meetings with our elected representatives are essential to keeping this important issue on their radar.
To access very good information on the military budget, go to www.fcnl.org