OpEdNews Op Eds

A Question of Priorities

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

DUMMERSTON, Vt. - Take a look inside President Bush's proposed $2.9 trillion federal budget for fiscal year 2008, and you'll see more of the same old thing - more money for war-making and tax cuts for the rich, less money for everybody else.

The president wants to spend $481 billion on defense, plus another $145 billion for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Put together, that's $628 billion for war - and that doesn't include the $19 billion the federal Department of Energy gets for nuclear weapons research.

According to William Hartung, a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute and an expert on military issues, this is the highest level of military spending since the end of World War II. It is more money than every other nation in the world combined spends on its military. It is more than the combined gross domestic products of all 47 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The proposed budget for just the Iraq war is larger than Russia's and China's military spending - combined.

As for those tax cuts, if you make more than $1 million a year, you're looking at an average tax cut of $162,000 a year by 2012. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, those in the top 1 percent of income earners would get 31 percent of the president's proposed tax cuts, while the bottom 40 percent would get just 4 percent.

So what's getting cut to pay for this?

- The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides help for poor families struggling to pay their heating bills, is being cut by $1.1 billion.

- The Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which last year provided more than 6.4 million food packages for low-income seniors and families with young children, is being eliminated. Also, elderly housing programs will receive $172 million less.

- The Community Block Grant Program, which provides $1.6 billion of funding for emergency food assistance, affordable housing and community development programs, is being eliminated, and $1 billion is being cut from job training and employment services.

- Education programs will take a big hit as Head Start is being cut by $436 million, special education loses $669 million and the Child Care and Development Block Grant program loses $111 million.

- In health care spending, rural health programs will see an 87 percent budget cut and the National Institutes of Health will get a $310 million cut.

In short, about $13 billion in cuts to nonmilitary-related items are being proposed, while this nation plans to spend 58 cents of every dollar of federal discretionary spending on the military.

Even worse, little of this military money is being spent on equipment and weapons that U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan badly need. According to Hartung, it's going instead toward Cold War-era weapons systems such as the F-22 fighter ($4.6 billion), the CVN-21 aircraft carrier ($3.1 billion), the SSN-774 Virginia-class attack submarine ($2.7 billion), the Trident D-5 submarine-launched missile ($1.2 billion) and ballistic missile defense ($10.8 billion).

In the San Francisco Chronicle last week, Ben Cohen, the co-founder of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, wrote that about $60 billion of the defense budget now devoted to unneeded and now-obsolete Cold War weaponry could be cut without effecting the military's ability to fight terrorists.

Cohen, now the head of Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, said that the $60 billion in savings could be used for other things - from providing health insurance to the 9 million children who don't have it to rebuilding and modernizing public schools or expanding energy conservation programs. The funding for all the aforementioned social service, education and health care program slated for cuts could be restored.

As with so many things, what it will take is Congress having enough guts to cut non-essential defense spending and reallocate that money toward other pressing needs.

The problem is that defense spending is the ultimate example of corporate welfare. Virtually every congressional district in the country gets funding for defense-related programs. And virtually every member of Congress fights to get more of this money.

When the talk turns to saving domestic programs and members of Congress start criticizing the president's budget, two questions should be asked. Will you vote to repeal the president's tax cuts and which defense program in your district would you eliminate to save LIHEAP, Head Start or other domestic priorities?

This is not a question of guns or butter. It's question about who we are as a nation and whether we think it's more important to waste money on unproductive and unneeded military spending or to steer as much of that money as possible toward things that will make a difference in the lives of average Americans.

 

Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 25 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at randyholhut@yahoo.com.

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE OVER BUSH'S ELECTION FRAUD?

THE 27-9-3 RULE AND HONING THE MESSAGE FOR 2006

Making a List: Who Are The Most Influential People in American History?

World War III: The GOP's Ultimate Trump Card?

RELIGIOUS TYRANNY AND THE WAR AGAINST REASON

TIME TO PUT SOME REAL MONEY INTO RAIL SERVICE

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
4 people are discussing this page, with 5 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Hi, We must end STOP military budget. Enough is ... by Aimee on Tuesday, Feb 13, 2007 at 3:23:57 PM
US Military budget- $460 billion Russia- $70 bill... by denvan on Tuesday, Feb 13, 2007 at 6:30:41 PM
For a couple years I've been blaming it on lack of... by Fred F on Tuesday, Feb 13, 2007 at 9:55:15 PM
Hey Dude! You obviously spent a ton of time res... by rabblerowzer on Wednesday, Feb 14, 2007 at 4:23:38 AM
We live in a country currently governed by white-c... by rabblerowzer on Thursday, Feb 15, 2007 at 4:11:36 AM