THE PRICE OF EMPIRE
Bush budget cuts everything but war
All out March 19 to demand 'Money for people's needs, not Pentagon'
Published Feb 13, 2005 3:32 PM
After all the triumphalism, all the grandiose
boasts about U.S. finance capital bringing "democracy" to the world on the tips
of bayonets, here comes the bill. And it's a whopper.
$2.57 trillion--yes, trillion--fiscal 2006 budget is no "guns and butter"
financial plan, aimed at appeasing the home-front population while waging war
for empire abroad. This even cuts out the bread.
"These budget cuts are a
declaration of war on the cities of the U.S.--on the lives of working and
oppressed peoples," Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action
Center, stressed to Workers World newspaper. "And they underscore the importance
of mobilizing for protests on March 19--the second anniversary of the
Pentagon-led war against the Iraqi people."
More than 150 government
programs are on the chopping block. Those who will suffer the greatest are not
in the Bush administration's conservative political base, although some of them
may feel it, too.
Medicaid would be significantly reduced, capping federal
payments for many who need it most. That health safety net faces $60 billion in
cuts over the next decade. Other health coverage programs for the poor and
disabled are in danger. And medical fees and a drug co-payment would be hiked
Educational programs would lose $528 million, leaving 48
educational programs high and dry--including a $1.2-billion
vocational-educational program. Aid that helps homeless children enroll in
public school would be reduced.
The Environmental Protection Agency would
take a $326-million hit in its funding for clean air, clear water and Superfund
If implemented, this fiscal axe would cut deeper into
domestic spending on social services than any administration since Ronald
Reagan's. And why? To wage war in the economic interests of corporate and
Follow the money
The euphemistically named
defense budget, on the other hand, would enjoy a lavish 5 percent increase, and
"homeland security" another 3 percent.
This spending blueprint doesn't
even include the blank check Republicans and Democrats on the Hill are expected
to endorse for continuing war against Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush
administration is about to ask for at least $80 billion more for that war
chest--$75 billion of it earmarked for the Pentagon--but that massive sum will
be listed under "supplemental funding."
Yes, Bush talked about a
$55-billion reduction in planned Navy and Air Force spending. That would halt
production of a submarine fleet and berth an aircraft carrier earlier than
scheduled. And he did suggest shutting down production of the F/A-22 stealth
fighter and the C-130J transport plane--a move certain to enrage Lockheed Martin
Corp. and result in layoffs in Marietta, Ga.
But in reality, that's
because the military machinery is getting an extreme makeover. Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld is ramming ahead like an Abrams tank with this costly
"The $419.3 billion defense budget announced yesterday,"
explained the Feb. 8 Wall Street Journal, "hews to Mr. Rumsfeld's vision of
faster, more-flexible fighting forces and high-tech weaponry at the expense of
traditional aircraft and ship programs that were designed to fight conventional
military forces, not guerrillas." Military-industrial complex bigwigs like
General Dynamics Corp. stand to make out like bandits.
The Feb. 8
Financial Times added, "The White House is seeking more money for the elite
special forces on which the U.S. has increasingly relied in the war on
The White House also wants Congress to fork over another $18
million total in 2006-07 to the Department of Energy to complete research on a
new generation of "bunker-buster" weapons that may be nuclear as well.
when it comes to international "aid," client states that the U.S. counts on to
keep a bootheel on their populations and their regions are at the top of the
list: Israel, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Colombia.
All out on
Of course, when it comes to proposed presidential budgets,
there's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip. For example, the proposed near
doubling of security fees for airplane passengers to fund airport screening has
the industry in a tailspin.
This budget is certain to alienate some of the
Bush administration's political base. He wants to lower agricultural subsidies
by $5.7 billion over the next decade. This has already raised a hue and cry from
Repub lican senators. Their political survival depends on delivering these
While these subsidies have lined the already deep
pockets of agribusiness, they've also helped the dwindling population of farmers
in less populated states. These states get the same number of senators as those
with large concentrations of workers, and have in recent decades helped skew
U.S. politics to the right.
Most significantly, as the chant "Money for
jobs, health care and social services, not war and occupation" rises in cities
and towns, campuses and rural areas across the country, it has the potential to
resonate for a larger segment of the population whose material reality is
awakening them to the need for independent struggle.
After all, where does
all this wealth that's being squandered on war and the pursuit of profits come
from? The labor of workers and farmers, who have had no say--despite all the
political trappings of capitalist democracy--over how their social surplus is
spent. Their power can only be exercised through consciousness and
organization--both of which have been at a low ebb.
That is what makes
March 19 all the more important. More than 20 organizing centers, from the East
Coast to the Midwest, are mobilizing to bring people to the
protests--particularly the rally in Central Park in Manhattan. Car caravans and
feeder marches are in the works. The list of endorsers is growing.
national information contact the Out Now Coalition at (212) 633-6646.
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