Mr. President, stop acting like a Sleepy Joe

President Joe Biden has been a disappointment. Fourteen months into the job he’s done some good things, for sure, but as far as I can tell Mr. Biden has governed as a 20th century president, and not as the leader of the richest and most powerful country on earth in the year 2022.

Case in point is his proposed federal budget for 2023. As reported by The New York Times, “Mr. Biden will request $813.3 billion in national security spending, an increase of $31 billion, or 4 percent, from 2022, according to people familiar with the proposal.”

And I’ve written about this before, but it merits repeating: 

  • The U.S. will spend more than $800 billion on its defense. 
  • China, which holds second place in defense spending, will spend more than $252 billion. 
  • Russia, the current bogeyman, spends north of $62 billion. 
  • All in all, the United States will spend more on defense than the next 13 countries on the list — together!

I am not saying that we do not need a defense budget, but more than the next 13 (that include China and Russia) together? Seriously, how many times over do we want to blow up this earth?

Biden has been challenged, mostly by Republicans, that there is not enough money to combat the most important battle we currently face — global warming and our dying environment. He is rebuffed when he suggests that the first two years of college be free in public institutions. And the list goes on… Then, when it’s time to present a budget for the upcoming year, he increases defense spending? And offers as an excuse Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Writing for Responsible Statecraft, William Hartung states that “the Pentagon budget is replete with examples of waste and dysfunction that must be addressed before going on a new spending spree. This includes dangerous or unworkable systems like the F-35 combat aircraft and the new intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM]. As a recent analysis by the Project on Government Oversight has pointed out, the F-35 program is rife with performance and reliability problems, and may never be fully ready for combat.”  

He adds: “As for the new ICBM, former Secretary of Defense William Perry has described these systems as ‘some of the most dangerous weapons in the world’ because a president would have only matter of minutes to decide whether to launch them in a crisis, significantly increasing the risks of an accidental nuclear war based on a false alarm. Despite this concern, the administration’s budget calls for an increase in spending on the new ICBM, part of a proposed three-decades long plan to build a new generation of nuclear-armed missiles, bombers, and submarines that could cost up to $2 trillion.”

There’s a reason for this spending spree, of course. The Pentagon’s 2023 budget will be a boon to defense contractors, with a proposed $276 billion for weapons procurement and Research and Development combined, over $30 billion more than the department’s 2022 proposal. Much of that increase will go towards nuclear weapons and missile defense — a total of $68.8 billion for those two functions.

It’s frustrating. The world is burning and what are we worried about? More nuclear weapons! As if we did not already have enough of them.

President Biden, wake up. I would hate to admit that that idiot before you was right when he called you “Sleepy Joe.”

Anyway, you’ll be 81, 82, I’m not exactly sure. Another presidency would be tiring. Anyway, if this is all you can offer us… Make this a one term presidency, if that’s what it takes. But make it consequential. 

Walk into the 21st century. I know it’s a little late, considering that 20 percent of the century has already flown by. Stand up to special interests, the Pentagon, Republicans and the Joe Manchins in your own Party. And whether you win or not, take them all on from your bully pulpit and propose slashing the defense budget — hell! by at least half… Then designate that money to be spent on the battle against climate change, better healthcare for everyone, and inject much needed money to education. 

Propose new and bold ideas. Make them listen to you. Bring the American people along with you. Convince them. Well, at least half of them. 

Win or lose in your endeavors, you will have made history and go down in the history books in a positive light. I promise you.

What you can’t continue to do is govern as if we were still hanging in the 1970s. Those days are gone Joe. Sorry, I had a great time back then too. But… we all get old.

Finally, I shall leave you with this brief story of my daughter who will soon be entering college and follows politics with interest: 

We were leaving the house and had just turned off the news; she turned to me and said of President Biden: “You know dad, I would have voted for him [she was not old enough in 2020], but as of right now he will go down as one of those presidents, you know,” she said… and then shrugged.