Sunday, March 9, 2008

More obscene behavior in Washington

I would normally object to posting of obscene material to this blog, but this hit me emotionally today in a way that I felt compelled to say something about. And for those of you who think that “obscene” is not the right word for this, I would agree only to the extent that “obscene” is not really a strong enough word.

What am I talking about? At one of the early presidential debates, Joe Biden repeated some folk wisdom his father told him. He roughly said “Don’t tell me what you claim your values are, show me your budget and I’ll tell you what your real values are”.

The new U.S. military spending proposal for Fiscal Year 2008 for the "regular" military budget, is $499 billion. This does not include the costs of the current occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. A proposed supplemental appropriation to pay for these adds $141.7 billion bringing the total to $647.2 billion. Note that this does not include debt payment for past wars, military pensions, Veterans benefits, etc.

In years past, the U.S. military budget was greater than the military budgets of all our potential enemies combined. The new proposed U.S. military spending for FY 2008 is now larger than military spending by ALL of the other nations in the world combined.

This spending spree comes at a time when America's main enemy is not a rival superpower like the Soviet Union, but a network of terrorist groups. Yet the budget includes items like the SSN-774 Virginia attack submarine ($2.7 billion), the Trident D-5 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile ($1.2 billion), and Ballistic Missile Defense ($10.8 billion).

The FY 2008 military budget proposal is more than 30 times higher than all spending on State Department operations and non-military foreign aid combined.

The FY 2008 military budget is over 120 times higher than the U.S. government spends on combating global warming.

The military spending is more than the combined totals of spending on education, environmental protection, administration of justice, veteran's benefits, housing assistance, transportation, job training, agriculture, energy, and economic development.

As the poverty rate continues to climb, the FY 2008 budget proposes cuts of $13 billion in non-military related discretionary spending, including cuts of $1.4 billion from the Community Development Block Grant; $436 million from Head Start; $1.1 billion from the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program; $669 million from Special Education; and $111 million from the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

For full details on this, see:

I'm at a loss for words at the moment. The only one that comes to mind in "obscene", or possibly a gut wrenching primal scream. History shows that the greater an empire overextends itself, the greater the crash will be when it falls. I see no evidence that we are willing to start pulling back yet, or that there is even an acknowledgement that we are seriously overextended. Special interest groups seem to have ever increasing control over our budget process.

Mike Ignatowski

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