Congress just passed a debt-ceiling-and-budget-deal that increased Pentagon spending while placing spending caps and burdensome red-tape requirements on critical services for working people.
Of the roughly $858 billion in taxpayer money the United States is spending on the Pentagon this year, about half goes to military contractors, including weapons manufacturers. Year after year, the Pentagon budget rises―Congress has just agreed on upping it to $886 billion for next year. Now, an explosive six month investigation by 60 Minutes has exposed drastic price gouging by federal military contractors―with some raking up total profits near 40%!
The price gouging of American taxpayers must come to an end. Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) reintroduced the People Over Pentagon Act, which would cut $100 billion from the Pentagon’s budget and reallocate the funds to human needs programs―to hire more teachers and nurses, enroll more children in Head Start, connect households to renewable energy, and more.
Two of the biggest price gougers are Lockheed Martin and its subcontractor, Boeing, which have also seen their tax rates plummet in recent years. Lockheed Martin has seen its effective tax rate cut nearly in half since the Trump tax scam became law in 2018―paying an effective tax rate of 27% in 2017, but just 15% in 2022. And, Boeing alone has gotten federal tax refunds the last three years totaling more than $4 billion, despite $187 billion in sales.
Throwing huge budget increases year after year to the Pentagon’s corporate contractors, which are price gouging the federal government while also paying historically low tax rates, undermines our security by preventing us from investing in the shared prosperity that comes from more housing, climate and public health protections, ending hunger, and more education. And Pentagon spending has been shown to create fewer jobs than comparable amounts spent on sectors including education, health care, renewable energy or infrastructure.
The United States spends more on defense than China, Russia, and the next seven countries combined. Reducing the Pentagon budget by $100 billion would still leave plenty to keep America safe at a level well above our country’s post-World War II average.
The they-warned-us-and-we-didn’t-listen edition. For months, medical experts warned us that COVID-19 cases likely would spike in the winter. It is happening. 4,112 new COVID-19 deaths were reported in the U.S. on Thursday, January 7 alone – the first time deaths in a single day exceeded 4,000. The daily death toll in New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania also set records. Illinois became the fifth state to record its one millionth case since the pandemic began. In Arizona, which right now has a higher infection rate than any other state in the U.S., hospitalizations and deaths set records in the past few days; the state has seen more than 8,000 new cases a day, more than double the summer peak.
But, as a nation, are we paying attention? Are we listening to the experts? “Most Americans don’t want to know, don’t want to acknowledge, don’t want to recognize, and certainly – even as it is descending upon us – do not appear to understand the dire circumstances that we are facing,” Dr. Marjorie Bessel, Chief Clinical Officer at Arizona’s Banner Health, told The New York Times.
Before the last Congress adjourned, it passed, as part of a COVID-19 relief package, $69 billion to purchase and help states distribute vaccines. The funds also will help states with COVID-19 contact tracing, treatment, and mitigation. The funds include $2.5 billion targeted toward communities of color and rural communities – both hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. When the new Administration is sworn in, scaling up the distribution and administration of the vaccines will be a priority in bringing the pandemic under control; to date, health officials have expressed disappointment at the pace of the vaccine roll-out.
The number of new COVID-19 cases confirmed in the U.S. on Wednesday, January 6 alone. That’s an 8 percent increase over two weeks ago. Tweet this.
The number of COVID-19 cases confirmed in the Los Angeles metropolitan area in just two weeks. That is more cases than at least 19 entire states have reported during the course of the pandemic. Tweet this.
Indigenous, Black, and Latinx Americans were at least 2.7 times more likely to have died from COVID-19 than white Americans, adjusted for age, in 2020. Tweet this.
1 in 800
By early December, COVID-19 had taken the lives of 1 in 800 Black and Indigenous peoplein the U.S. In Michigan and New Jersey, it was 1 in 470 Black lives lost; in Mississippi, it was 1 in 140 Indigenous lives lost.
71 percent of Black Americans say they know someone who has been hospitalized or died from COVID-19, according to a Pew Research survey released in December.
The percent of Americans who say they will get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the same survey. 42 percent of Blacks say they will do so, compared with 83 percent of Asian Americans, 63 percent of Latinx, and 61 percent of whites.
The number of people in households that sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the previous week, or 14 percent of all people in households. That was true of 24.5% of Blacks, 21% of Latinx, 10% of whites, and 7% of Asians – and 18% of adults in households with children. The numbers appeared to reflect a sharp increase from a previous reporting period in November.
The number of people whose household found it somewhat or very difficult to meet usual expenses during the previous week, or 37.5 percent. That was true of 55% of Blacks, 51% of Latinx, 32% of Asians, and 31% of whites – and 45% of all adults living with children.