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Beating Bush's Swords Into Plowshares

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Message Ron Fullwood
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." -- Isaiah

Bush, in his speech marking four years of his occupation of Iraq, complained about the additional spending projects Democrats are including in their version of the 'emergency' Iraq funding bill he requested.

"Members of Congress are now considering an emergency war spending bill. They have a responsibility to ensure that this bill provides the funds and the flexibility that our troops need to accomplish their mission. They have a responsibility to pass a clean bill that does not use funding for our troops as leverage to get special interest spending for their districts," he said.

A statement from the White House Tuesday, said Bush would veto the bill if Congress included "excessive and extraneous" spending.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brushed aside the rhetoric. ''The American people have lost confidence in President Bush's plan for a war without end in Iraq,'' she said.

All of the 'pork' Bush and his republican enablers are complaining about in the Iraq spending bill is actually a down-payment on a long-overdue shift in priorities; from Bush's waging of his military occupation in Iraq and pumping up the bank accounts of the military industry, back to focusing on the needs and concerns of Americans and doing something to reverse the festering neglect by the republicans of our workers and economy here at home.

Included in the funding legislation are initiatives like $2.9 billion for Gulf Coast hurricane recovery, including $1.3 billion for New Orleans levee repairs; $3.7 billion worth of agricultural disaster assistance, including drought relief for U.S. farmers; money for children's health care; $500 million for wildfire suppression; $120 million for shrimp and Atlantic menhaden fishermen; and $15 million for Louisiana rice farmers. WP

In Georgia, for example, the state is slated to receive assistance to build peanut storehouses. Georgia peanut farmers provide almost half of the U.S. peanut crop each year. Georgia has 6,000 farm families growing peanuts and another 37,000 Georgians working on peanut farms, in peanut-related agribusiness services, in shelling plants and in factories that roast peanuts or make candy or peanut butter. Due to a drought last year the peanut production in Georgia and in other producer states is down over 34 percent from last year's level with some farmers talking about 50 to 60-percent yield losses. The peanut industry in Georgia provides over 50,000 American jobs in the state.

Those American jobs are among the priorities which have been repeatedly cast aside as republicans eagerly poured billions into Iraq, most of the money bypassing the troops and appearing in military industry coffers for future weapons systems. In Bush's original 'emergency' request he made room for new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets and C-130 cargo planes for Lockheed; a dozen F/A-18 fighter jets; seven new V-22 Osprey transport aircraft; six copies of a new plane called the Growler; $74 million for "design, development, integration, and testing" of an unmanned spy plane; all of which wouldn't be operable in any battlefield until at least 2010. Boston Globe

It makes sense to begin to repair the damage done by the continued stoking of Bush's Iraq failure by the former republican majority when they held sway over the budget. Taking care of our citizens here at home, as well as caring for the troops at the point of Bush's occupation has been the Democratic argument from the arrival of the administration's first 'emergency' budget request for Iraq.

While Bush and his republican legislators have spared no expense in feathering their Iraq debacle, Democrats have been arguing for investments in Americans' lives and livelihoods here at home. It is serendipity that the funding of our soldiers' return from Iraq will be accompanied by a Democratic effort to support and preserve jobs in their hometowns.
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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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