Money for war instead of people

Money, money, money… the news these days focuses on the growing evidence of our recession, and stories trickle past about George W Bush’s proposed 2009 federal budget, which slashes education, college assistance, and VA medical benefits, while keeping taxes low for millionaires and their heirs. From the Times:

Mr. Bush said his budget would slow “the unsustainable growth of entitlement spending” with proposed savings of $208 billion over five years. This includes savings of $178 billion in Medicare, $17 billion in Medicaid and $6 billion in student aid programs. The president proposes to raise $2 billion from new enrollment fees and higher pharmacy co-payments for certain veterans receiving health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Here we are again, cutting money for vets (and other low-income people) while still funding the war. AFSC has an excellent video about the ongoing cost of the occupation of Iraq, and like all things they do, they offer options for action.

Meanwhile, the stimulus package is turning into a display of rhetoric versus fact. Example: putting money into the hands of people who don’t have money has a strong “stimulating” effect on the economy, since, well, folks will then just turn around and spend it. One economist from Economy.com (as quoted in the NY Times) put the estimate at $1.73 of benefit for every $1 the government invests in extending unemployment benefits. So, shouldn’t an extension of unemployment benefits be the top of the list? It wasn’t at the top of Bush’s list, but at least now the Senate version of the bill addresses unemployment. We’ll see if the D’s can stand up for this in the vote today. You can send an email to your Senators about this thanks to AARP (since fixed-income seniors are also frozen out of Bush’s stimulus package).

And back to the root of all this — it’s so disheartening that so much federal funding goes to support war and then supposedly the till is empty when it comes to people. For a complete picture of federal spending, you can take a look at this poster created by the Death and Taxes folks. It’s a visual guide to our huge federal budget. Easy to spend a while playing with it. Not so easy to create change so that we can start putting our money where are values are: investing in people instead of war. But take a minute, send an email, make a call — the time is now.

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