News Release

* Military Spending * Comcast-Netflix Deal

The New York Times reports: “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to shrink the United States Army to its smallest force since before the World War II buildup and eliminate an entire class of Air Force attack jets in a new spending proposal that officials describe as the first Pentagon budget to aggressively push the military off the war footing adopted after the terror attacks of 2001.”

WILLIAM HARTUNG, williamhartung55 at gmail.com, @WilliamHartung
Hartung is director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and recently wrote the piece “You Can’t Wage War on Turbulence.” He said today: “To his credit, Secretary of Defense Hagel said today that we should no longer size U.S. military forces to engage in ‘prolonged conflicts’ like those in Iraq and Afghanistan. In doing so, he was essentially acknowledging the fact that spending trillions of dollars and losing thousands of lives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not made anyone safer. The majority of Americans understand this, and won’t support similar interventions any time soon. The real question is whether we can roll back the ‘go anywhere, fight any battle’ mentality of the Pentagon. Whether it’s drones, Special Forces or precision bombs, war is war and it’s time to take the United States off of a perpetual war footing and craft a truly defensive military force.

“The proposal for the Pentagon plus nuclear weapons/military activities at DOE comes in at $511 billion. We haven’t heard about the war budget, which is $85 billion for this year (FY2014). So, the budget has been coming down since 2011, both because of fewer troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and because the sequester actually forced some cuts in the Pentagon’s base budget.”

CRAIG AARON, caaron at freepress.net, @notaaroncraig
President and CEO of Free Press, Aaron said today: “The exact terms of the Comcast-Netflix deal are still secret, but this much is clear: Millions of consumers who already have paid handsomely for a premium broadband experience received poor service for months on end. Comcast refused to make minimal investments to deliver what their customers had already bought, while simultaneously pushing their customers to upgrade to more expensive services.

“This should be a wake-up call to regulators at the Federal Communications Commission about how ISPs will try to abuse their market power. The average user is at the mercy of powerful companies like Comcast and Verizon, both of which apparently won’t hesitate to degrade their service as a negotiating tactic. We need a watchdog in Washington who can demand transparency and who has the authority to stop discrimination and anti-competitive behavior.

“This agreement is in no sense the outcome of a free market. This isn’t voluntary. This is Comcast having Netflix over a barrel, and striking a deal only once it became clear that degrading Netflix could potentially derail their merger with Time Warner Cable.

“This deal is a glimpse of the future of the Internet — and that future will look even worse if Comcast is allowed to take over Time Warner Cable.”