White House 2019 Budget Goes Nuclear

John LaForge

In keeping with the Trump Administration’s Feb. 2nd Nuclear Posture Review, Trump’s just-released Fiscal Year 2019 federal budget proposal dramatically ramps-up nuclear weapons research and production.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, is receiving a $2.2 billion overall boost to $15.1 billion, a 17 percent increase above FY 2018. Of that, a full $12.8 billion is for nuclear weapons -- 8 percent above FY 2018.

The NNSA’s “Directed [nuclear weapons] Stockpile Work” is increased 41 percent, from $3.3 billion to $4.7 billion. The “stockpile” programs are the hands-on, nut-and-bolts operations that include extending the operational service time of today’s nuclear weapons for up to 60 years, while also endowing them with new military capabilities.

In addition, the NNSA budget shows the addition of another $1.76 billion to “Nuclear Weapons Activities,” for a grand total FY 2019 budget of $12.78 billion. The document doesn’t make clear where the additional money comes from. In the past it’s been drawn from Pentagon, but elsewhere in Trump’s budget there is a cut of over $17 billion from the anti-poverty Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which ought to cover the NNSA.

Of course, these figures cover just one fiscal year. Enormous as they are, they’re merely down-payments that only open the door on a proposed 30-year nuclear weapons “rebuild.” The $1.74 trillion “upgrade” includes $313 billion for a new fleet of missile-launching submarines; $13 billion for a “smart” hydrogen bomb the United States has never built before; $50 billion for a so-called “interoperable” nuclear warheads intended for use on either submarines, rockets, or missiles; $127 billion for a new heavy, long-range bomber dubbed the “China bomber” (to improve relations with our No. 1 trading partner); $30 billion for a new nuclear-armed Cruise missile; $149 billion for 600 new land-based missiles; and another $261 billion to rebuilt the Y-12 bomb plant in Tennessee, the Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico, and the Kansas City Plant in Missouri. 

Trump’s plan also calls for a 13 percent increase in military spending (about $80 billion), raising Pentagon allotment to $686 billion. Can you say “bankruptcy”?

In a show of fiscal responsibility, some of the increases in weapons and war planning programs are being offset by deep cuts to the social safety net, education and healthcare programs. Although Mr. Trump’s political base of undereducated white supremacists are the biggest user of food stamps in the country, his budget slashes the Department of Education by over 10 percent, and bars Food Stamp recipients from buying fresh food and vegetables, “providing only a box food delivery program,” Democracy Now! reported. Trump’s budget also phases out federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which supports public and community radio and TV stations, also known as Educational TV. With cuts to health, education and nutrition programs, you’d think the Self-proclaimed “genius” was trying to dumb down the electorate.

Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico summed up the fiscal year plan this way: “Trump’s budget prepares for nuclear war, which even Ronald Reagan said can’t be won and must never be fought. It finances a new arms race with Russia and increases the chances of a nuclear war with North Korea. It further raids the treasury by diverting huge sums of money to the usual fat cat nuclear weapons contractors.”

There must be a way to cut military spending, but we would have to be able to grasp its magnitude. In just the fiscal year 2015, the warplane, missile and satellite maker Lockheed Martin Corporation alone won $46 billion in military contracts.