Reading Room

How to Save $120 Billion – or More

Monday, December 17, 2018
Posted by Marylia Kelley

Just in time for Christmas, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a report, “Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2019 to 2028.”

The full report is available at

The CBO notes, “almost all components of the United States’ nuclear forces are scheduled to be modernized (refurbished or replaced by new systems over the next 20 years… [This] is expected to nearly double the amount spent annually on nuclear forces…”

Commensurate with the unrestrained spending inherent in the Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review and “modernization” plans, CBO outlines more than $120 billion in nuclear weapons savings that could be realized over the coming decade. Here are five nuggets from the report.

1. Cancel the Long-Range Stand Off (LRSO) and save $13.3 billion.

2. Forego the development of a new Interoperable Warhead (also called the W78 warhead replacement) by conducting a simple refurbishment instead, and cancel the new ICBM it would sit atop, saving $30.4 billion.

3. Delay development of the B-21 Heavy Bomber for the coming decade and save $44.9 billion.

4. Reduce the nuclear triad to 8 SSBNs (subs), 150 ICBMs and 1,000 warheads and save $13.1 billion. (Note: Tri-Valley CAREs believes the right number of nuclear weapons is zero; but it’s interesting to note the savings calculated by CBO for a reduction in forces.)  

5. The CBO also included in its report the Missile Defense Agency’s ground-based midcourse defense system. Cancelation would save $20.3 billion.

All I want for Christmas is fewer dollars spent on nuclear weapons.

There are opportunities for that to happen during the holiday period and beyond. The Office of Management and Budget can rein-in the budget aspirations of the Defense Dept. and National Nuclear Security Administration. Congressional authorizing and appropriations committees can trim the numbers overall and eliminate whole programs. And, the entire Congress retains the ultimate power of the purse.

Public outcry matters here. Perhaps I should rephrase my holiday wish and say, all I want for Christmas is an active citizenry demanding fewer dollars spent on nuclear weapons and war.

I hope to see you on the “front lines” of social and political change in the coming year, my friends. And, thank you for all you do!