Bernie Sanders: U.S. Must Take ‘Hard Look’ at Military Budget

Bernie Sanders flag (Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty)
Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty

OAKLAND — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) provided a glimpse into this plans to cut funding for America’s military budget during a brief interview with Breitbart News on Memorial Day outside of a panel discussion he held in the famous Allen Temple Baptist Church in East Oakland.

Sanders has previously voiced his intention to cut spending within the Pentagon and the Department of Defense, blaming contractors for what he describes as “massive fraud” and a “bloated military budget.”

Breitbart News:  Today is Memorial Day. You were up north for a Memorial Day event. I know that you have also mentioned possibly cutting the budget for the Pentagon. In lieu of the national security surprises and threats that we are facing, do you have a number by which you intend to cut it by?

Bernie Sanders: First of all, let me say that he veterans community, and today on Memorial Day, we are honoring those people who gave their lives to defend this country. As the Former chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, I helped pass the most compressive and expanded VA healthcare bill in the modern history of this country. And I think the veterans community will tell you that in Bernie Sanders they will have a very, very, very strong friend as president of the United States.

In terms of military spending, I think like in every other agent of government, we’ve got to take a hard look at the military budget. And we don’t need waste in the military budget. Actually, right now, the Department of Defense is the only agency of the government that can’t sustain an independent audit. You go and ask someone really hard questions about contracts or cost overruns, they couldn’t give you an answer. So I don’t have a real concern about the kinds of cost overruns that military contractors have been providing the Pentagon [with]. They say they’re going to do a weapons system for “x” billion. It turns out to be two times that. I worry about the number of overseas military bases that we have and I think there is a lot of waste in the military.

Earlier this year, Politico published an article pointing out that in 1995, Sanders had introduced a bill to terminate America’s nuclear weapons program. And in 2002, he had supported a 50 percent cut for the Pentagon.

In a reversal of course from when he first entered the White House, President Barack Obama called upon Congress to “fully reverse” bipartisan sequester spending limits that had originally been imposed. He also turned away from his initial philosophy of isolationism, which resulted in the premature withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, warning as recently as last week against falling into the “false comfort” of isolationism in a “globalized interconnected world.”

Asked if Sanders would similarly pass sequestration, Sanders said he would not.

Breitbart News: Would you pass sequestration?

Bernie Sanders: No. I don’t like sequestration. I think what you have to do is look at every agency of government and determine what they need to make sure they have it in a cost-effective way. The United States must have, in my view, the strongest military in the world. Like everything else, it must be done in a cost-effective basis. Do we need all of the nuclear weapons that we have? I’m not sure that we do. Those are hard issues that we have to look at.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz