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The Elephant in the Room: Pentagon Spending and the Presidential Election

January 25 @ 9:30 am - 2:00 pm

Elephant in the Room

A mini-conference on making war spending an election issue

The United States spends monstrous amounts of money on its military each year. The FY2019 National Defense Budget reached a staggering $716 billion and the FY2020 military budget will end up costing taxpayers between $738 – $750 billion.  No country in the world comes even close to dedicating its finite resources to the military.  In fact, the U.S. spends more on defense than the combined spending of the next seven countries with the highest defense budgets.  Yet, presidential candidates have given relatively little attention to this imbalance.

Join a mini-conference to explore the military budget, its impact on domestic priorities, and the silence of presidential candidates in the face of the “Elephant in the Room”.  Sign up to attend!

Presenters include:

William Hartung

William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at CIP and a senior adviser to the center’s Security Assistance Monitor. He is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Nation Books, 2011) and co-editor, with Miriam Pemberton, of Lessons from Iraq: Avoiding the Next War (Paradigm Press, 2008).  Previous books include And Weapons for All (HarperCollins, 1995), a critique of U.S. arms sales policies from the Nixon through Clinton administrations.

Neta Crawford

Neta Crawford is Professor and Chair of Boston University’s Department of Political Science and a Faculty Research Fellow at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at BU.  She is co-director and co-founder of the Costs of War project at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, which has recently been expanded with the addition of the “20 Years of War” research series.

James B. Eldridge is state senator for the Middlesex and Worcester district, which includes Acton, Marlborough, Westborough, Harvard, and nearby towns.  He is a champion of progressives in the Senate and supports bills on climate change, economic justice, and peace.

Lindsay KoshgarianLindsay Koshgarian is Program Director of the National Priorities Project, a part of the Institute for Policy Studies. Her work on the federal budget includes analysis of the federal budget process and politics, military spending, and specifically how federal budget choices for different spending priorities and taxation interact. A particular area of focus is how a decades-long policy of outsized military budgets has eroded political will to invest in opportunity and human potential through greater federal support of education, health care, infrastructure and more. Her articles have appeared in NPR, the BBC, CNN, The Nation, U.S. News and World Report, and others. She holds an MPP from UCLA and a B.A. in Physics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Savannah WootenSavannah Wooten is the Campaign Coordinator of the People Over Pentagon campaign, leading Public Citizen’s advocacy efforts to reduce military spending and reinvest in domestic and human needs priorities. Savannah is a trained organizer and peacebuilder with a background in atrocity prevention, international human rights, civic engagement, campaigns, and program management.

Maryellen Kurkulos is a member of the Elephant in the Room project team and a Board member of Massachusetts Peace Action. She organizes in southeastern New England and works with several groups including Our Revolution Greater Fall River and the Rhode Island Peace Alliance.

Breakout Topics:

Bird Dogging the Candidates 

Getting Our Message in the Media

Massachusetts Budget and Military Spending

Military Budget and Domestic Programs

Contact: Elephant in the Room Project,  617-354-2146.  Email:

The Elephant in the Room Project is sponsored by: Massachusetts Peace Action Education Fund; Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security; American Friends Service Committee; Survival Education Fund; Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment.  The mini-conference is also co-sponsored by: Veterans for Peace/Smedley Butler Brigade; NuclearBan.US; United for Justice with Peace; International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War



January 25
9:30 am - 2:00 pm
Event Tags:


Elephant in the Room Project


Harvard-Epworth Methodist Church
1555 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA United States
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