Oct. 11, 2011: To Super Committee: Freeze the Nukes, Fund the Future
65 members of Congress sign letter to Super Committee calling for cuts to nuclear weapons budget, preservation of programs for seniors, families and Americans with disabilities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Exactly 25 years ago today, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met in Reykjavik to discuss how to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Today, Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) was joined by military leaders, national security experts, and health and nonproliferation advocates to call on the Super Committee to continue the unfinished work of that summit. Rep. Markey and 64 House members will send a letter this week to the Super Committee calling on the group to cut $200 billion from the nuclear weapons budget over the next decade before targeting programs for seniors, middle-class families and the most vulnerable.
“American needs another nuclear weapon like Lady Gaga needs another outfit,” said Rep. Markey, top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. “With enough nuclear firepower to blow the world up 5 times over, the real choice is between continuing to spend billions on weapons we no longer need and cannot afford or funding programs that put us on the path to a more prosperous future. We need to stop pouring billions into these radioactive relics and start funding the cures and technologies that truly will secure our future.”
A copy of the letter to the Super Committee can be found HERE .
Currently, America is the financial caretaker for 5,000 nuclear warheads. The U.S. will spend an estimated $700 billion on nuclear weapons and related programs over the next ten years. The proposed cut of $200 billion will enable the U.S. to remain safe without further straining the budget. For example, reducing America’s submarine fleet from 14 to 8 and delaying procurement of new submarines will save $27 billion over the next ten years. And the New START Treaty already will reduce America’s level of deployed strategic to warheads to 1,550. This is a 25 percent cut from today’s levels. Less weapons should equal less funding.
“Representative Markey's proposal is not only militarily responsible but it also would enhance U.S. national security,” said Lt. General Robert G. Gard Jr. (USA, ret.), Chairman and Senior Military Fellow, The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.
“Spending $700 billion on nuclear weapons and related programs over the next decade is neither affordable or necessary,” said Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione. “Continuing to pour money into Cold War systems will strangle the defense programs we need to defeat today's threats. It is irresponsible to pretend otherwise. We applaud Rep. Markey and his colleagues for their strong leadership and sensible vision.”
Congressman Markey’s call to the Super Committee is supported by 48 individuals and organizations. Their letter to members of Congress can be found HERE.
Statements of Support
Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
“We agree with Congressman Ed Markey and other members of the House and the Senate that we can and should trim billion of dollars on outdated Cold War nuclear weapons projects that are ill-suited to address 21st century security challenges. This includes proposals for new nuclear-armed subs and bombers that could cost taxpayers more than $400 billion in the coming decades.
“By rightsizing its operational fleet of Trident nuclear-armed subs to 8 or fewer from 12 and building no more than 8 new nuclear-armed subs, the United States could still deploy the same number of strategic nuclear warheads at sea as is planned (about 1,000) and save roughly $26 billion over 10 years, $31 billion over 30 years, and $120 billion over the life of the program. By delaying work on a new long-range penetrating bomber beyond the next 10 years, Congress could save at least $3.7 billion in research and development costs, and if the program were canceled, it would save at least $50 billion in procurement costs alone. Because the Pentagon will continue to deploy 60 already proven B-2s and B-52s, delaying the new bomber program would not have any effect on United States nuclear force deployments. Deeper nuclear reductions - below New START levels - are prudent and would save still more money that could be used for other important national priorities.
“By responsibly reducing strategic nuclear forces we no longer need and can’t afford, we can help close the budget deficit and reduce Russia’s incentive to maintain a larger nuclear arsenal.”
James E. Winkler, General Secretary, The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
“The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society stands with Rep. Edward Markey and the 61 members of Congress in their timely call for the Super Committee to cut $200 billion on nuclear weapons and related programs over ten years. The threat to destroy a nation or people with nuclear weapons is against the will of God. Our leaders should not be hemmed into a fallen world. Rather they must lead us in a new direction away from nuclear weapons into a world where justice and peace reign. We call on the Supper Committee to adopt the cut in their legislation to the whole Congress.”
Pax Christi USA
“Pax Christi USA lends its full support to Representative Markey’s proposal. As Archbiship Francis Chullikatt, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, has stated: ‘With developing needs across the globe far outpacing the resources being devoted to address them, the thought of pouring hundreds of billions of additional dollars into the world’s nuclear arsenals is nothing short of sinful.’ As Americans and as Catholics, we will not be a silent party to this Administration’s obscene nuclear weapons modernization policy, which crushes the poor and entrenches us in a suicidal and outdated deterrence posture.”
Ambassador Robert Grey, Director, Bipartisan Security Group
“Every dollar we spend on nuclear weapons is a dollar we do not spend confronting the security challenges of the 21st century. Spending $700 billion on a relic of the Cold War would not make sense in boom times, doing so in this budget environment is quixotic.”
Diane E. Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)
“The Cold War is over. The Super Committee can cut the deficit by not dumping money into antiquated weapons systems that don't serve any purpose in today's world and could potentially lead to a nuclear catastrophe.”
Susan Shaer, Executive Director, Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)
“Today, the Pentagon is not a target for spending cuts, even though it engulfs way over half of annual discretionary spending, and looms as growing in future budgets.
This is not fair, nor effective. Worse, much of the unchecked Pentagon spending is directed at last-century strategies, leaving us vulnerable as we fail to address 21st century security needs. America needs Pentagon spending discipline to contribute to deficit reduction and to maintain our nation’s strength and security and be smart for new strategies.”
“Today, WAND strongly supports Congressman Ed Markey’s ‘Freeze Nukes and Fund the Future’ letter signed by 64 U.S. Representatives calling on the super committee to look for cost savings in excessive nuclear weapons spending.
“The one area where obvious spending restraint stands out is on redundant and out dated nuclear weapons. News flash – the Cold War is over. Yet, twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, the United States plans to spend an estimated $700 billion on nuclear weapons and related costs in the coming decade. Thank you to Congressman Markey for leading the call for sensible budget priorities that strengthen our country.”
Peter Wilk, M.D., Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility
“As a physician, the health perspective on nuclear weapons is clear. These weapons are a liability, not an asset, and pose an unacceptable risk to human health. We endorse meaningful cuts in the nuclear weapons budget.”