Progressive groups are pushing 2020 Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden to cut the military budget by hundreds of billions and move his foreign policy platform further left.
They have laid out a progressive wish list that includes cutting the Pentagon’s budget by $200 billion each year, ending the refurbishment of the nation’s nuclear arsenal begun under Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and getting rid of the Space Force — at a time when U.S. adversaries are ramping up spending in those areas.
More than 50 progressive groups made the demands in a letter sent to Biden in May. It is not clear how receptive Biden is to their demands, but he has already indicated he is open to cutting the defense budget.
“We can maintain a strong defense and protect our safety and security for less,” he told the Washington Post.
Trump blasted calls to defund the military during a press conference in the Rose Garden on Tuesday.
“Now the Democrat Party is calling for defunding of our military. Think of that: defunding. They want to defund our military when China is building a massive military. They’re building a massive military, and Biden wants to defund our military. And the world needs American strength right now more than ever, and we’ve got it,” Trump said.
Calls to cut the military budget have the support of progressive politicians such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and members of the “Squad”: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).
They received a huge boost from establishment Democrats last week when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) came out in support of a Sanders amendment to cut military funding and invest in progressive priorities, which will receive a vote on July 20.
Schumer said in a statement: “Proud I fought alongside Sen. Sanders to ensure we vote in July on his amendment to cut $740 billion defense budget by 10% and put [money] into priorities like health care, housing, childcare in communities with 25%+ poverty —including many communities of color.”
“This amendment will begin to change our national priorities,” Sanders tweeted. His amendment is backed by more than 60 progressive groups fighting for economic, environmental, racial justice, and peace, Sanders’s office said. Those groups were not identified, but it is likely the same groups pressuring Biden.
Those same groups sent a letter on Monday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to call on her to appoint a House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman who supports their causes.
“We ask that the next HFAC Chair be publicly committed to fully repealing the Trump Administration’s Muslim, African, refugee, and asylum bans, restore access to asylum, and support a robust refugee resettlement program, at minimum returning to the historic average goal of 95,000 per year,” the letter said.
On Wednesday, Sanders told MSNBC’s Ali Velshi that he and Biden are collaborating on a number of issues.
“We put together a number of task forces with the Biden campaign. One of them is on health care. He, in fact, moved a whole lot in many areas,” he said.
Steve Guest, Rapid Response Director for the Republican National Committee, said in a press release: “When Biden isn’t plagiarizing from Bernie, Biden has become nearly indistinguishable from Crazy Bernie.” He added:
On energy, Biden has embraced Bernie’s and AOC’s Green New Deal agenda of anti-fracking and anti-fossil fuel. Their plan to eliminate oil, gas, and coal from the power grid would burden Americans with $4.5 TRILLION in expenses. Biden is also in agreement with Bernie to stop deportations of illegal immigrants. On taxes, Biden and Bernie are also in agreement that hard working Americans need to pay more in taxes. Bernie endorsed middle class tax hikes and Biden’s tax plan would level tax increases on 82% of middle-income Americans. Biden, like Bernie wants to give government funded health care to illegal immigrants. Furthermore, Biden and Bernie both want to abolish the death penalty.
Bottom Line: While Joe Biden might be the physical nominee for the Democrat Party, the agenda of Bernie Sanders and AOC is Biden’s platform.
According to a Foreign Policy report in April, Biden’s campaign advisers were in touch with Sanders’s foreign policy advisers to discuss a unified platform.
Jim Townsend, a former deputy secretary of defense for Europe under the Obama administration, told Foreign Policy that a new Biden administration is going to have to think “anew” because of Sanders and his supporters.
“A new Biden administration is not only going to have to think anew because of what we’ve learned, but because of Bernie and how his core supporters were looking at foreign policy and the U.S. role in the world,” he said.
“It will not be rejected out of hand. I just feel as certain as I’m sitting here, that if the Biden administration is elected, progressive ideas are going to be there on the table.”