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Bush’s budget: Death and taxes—for everyone except the rich

Published Feb 6, 2007 10:22 PM

Twenty thousand dollars a second; $70 million an hour. That’s how much money the Pentagon will be allowed to spend under the administration’s planned 2008 federal budget.

The $2.9 trillion Bush budget defies superlatives. Virtually every government program that addresses human needs is to be cut.

But the military got its largest war chest ever, a staggering two-thirds of a trillion dollars for more war, more nuclear weapons, more militarization of outer space, more U.S. troops around the globe, more bombs, bullets, guns and missiles.

In terms of real, pre-inflation dollars, it’s the highest level of military spending since the height of the Korean War in 1952. It’s a 10 percent hike from last year’s war spending. And this is in addition to $145 billion in “supplemental funding” that will go directly to the wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Just that supplemental piece alone is enough to provide free tuition for every student enrolled in a public college or university in this country.

The government would cut $78 billion from health spending over five years. Sixty-six billion dollars would be taken from Medicare, which provides health insurance for 43 million people. And the remaining $12 billion will come from Medicaid for the poor and from a program that provides health insurance for low-income children.

Ambulance services will be reduced. Rental periods for life-sustaining oxygen equipment will be cut to 13 months from 36 months. Hospitals and hospices will get less, not more. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage for six million low-income children, will see a $223 million reduction in funds.

Other programs on the chopping block include the Environmental Protection Agency (4.9 percent cut from last year’s funding); Low Income Home Energy Assistance (56 percent cut from last year); Amtrak ($500 million cut from last year); Education Department (5 percent cut); Office of Disability Employment Policy (32 percent cut) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ($550 million cut).

The budget attack is particularly vicious when it comes to taxes. At present, the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the rich are scheduled to expire in 2010. The new budget calls for making these tax giveaways permanent.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, this will translate to a transfer of $1 trillion in tax cuts for the top 1 percent of households—those with incomes over $400,000—over the next 10 years. The group estimates that the cost of the tax bonanza for people with incomes over $1 million will exceed the total amount the federal government devotes to K-12 and vocational education.

Trying to make military spending seem small

The government’s line, echoed by the capitalist media, is that “entitlement” programs, like Social Security, are burgeoning out of control, and military spending, while large, is still a small fraction of the total budget.

For instance, an Office of Management and the Budget pie chart, reprinted in the Washington Post, shows “national defense” taking up about one-fifth of total spending.

But this is deliberate deception. The scam is based on mixing apples and oranges. The Bush budget combines federal fund items, those budget items that get paid for by taxes, with trust fund items like Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance, which have their own sources of income and spending separate from taxes.

For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the government never used to combine federal funds with trust funds in the national budget—until the Vietnam War. Since Vietnam, and since the ever-growing militarization of the capitalist economy, federal and trust funds have been deliberately combined in the budget as a way to make it seem that militarism doesn’t eat up such a big share of total spending.

It’s not one-fifth. Rather it’s more than one-half of tax dollars that are consumed by the military, according to the Center for Defense Information.

Military spending includes not only the “official” Department of Defense budget, but many other war-related projects, such as nuclear weapons programs in the Energy Department, military-related programs in the departments of Homeland Security and Justice and payments to the military and CIA retirement and health care systems.

And the biggest source of “hidden” military spending lies in the single largest piece of the federal budget: interest payments on the national debt, which soar to $470 billion in the new Bush bill.

Most of that debt was raised to pay for past wars. As of 5 a.m., Feb. 6, the total national debt was $8,698,256,057,676.85—almost nine trillion dollars—and growing at the rate of over a billion dollars a day.

The capitalist budget is a program for war, death and destruction, the desperate gasps of a system that is bankrupt to its core.