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Archive for the ‘Domestic spending’ Category

George Will’s latest column, A Lack of Courage in Their Convictions, argues that Democratic criticism of the war in Iraq is disingenuous and politically opportunist. “Indiscriminate criticism of President George W. Bush is an infectious disease that may prove crippling to congressional Democrats.” The Democrats refuse to cut off funding for the Iraq war; instead, they condemn the surge rhetorically in a non-binding resolution. “They lack the will to exercise their clearly constitutional power to defund the war. And they lack the power to achieve that end by usurping the commander in chief’s powers to conduct a war.”

I agree with George. Democrats should defund the war and bring home the troops. It’s what the Iraqis want and it’s what we want. But then, Will’s logic takes a turn for the absurd. While urging the Democrats to act on their convictions, Will writes “They can spend this year fecklessly and cynically enacting restrictions that do not restrict. Or they can legislate decisive failure of the Iraq operation — withdrawal — thereby acquiring conspicuous complicity in a defeat that might be inevitable anyway.”

If Democratic support for withdrawal demonstrates “conspicuous complicity in a defeat” George Bush’s policy has made such defeat “inevitable.” But I disagree with the premise. A resolute push for withdrawal (enforced by restricting funding) is the only strategy for saving American lives and resources; to refute American Iraqi policy is to save America from a deeper commitment.

To compare criticism to an “infectious disease” is not just demonstrative of Will’s contempt for democracy but it’s also an indication of his stark partisanship: the Democrats should cut off funding to a policy which will inevitably fail, but if they do, they will take part in a “conspicuous complicity” for failure. Will is urging the Democrats to legislate their convictions; should they do so, however, George Will will criticize them for taking his advise.

— Igor Volsky

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The president’s new budget proposal follows the classic conservative formula of increasing subsidies to the military-industrial complex (by allocating billions of dollars towards the war effort) while slashing domestic programs aimed at aiding middle and lower class Americans.

The president’s budget, much unlike his rhetoric, is the best indicator of administration beliefs and priorities. To that end, this budget didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know– welfare for the rich, ‘tough love’ and ‘responsibility’ for everybody else.

From ThinkProgress:

On Jan. 31, President Bush headed to Wall Street and acknowledged for the first time that income inequality exists in America: “The fact is that income inequality is real. It has been rising for more than 25 years.”

But apparently, he’s not quite ready to do anything about it. Bush’s 2008 budget cuts crucial aid for America’s middle class:

– “$77 billion in funding cuts for Medicare and Medicaid over the next five years, and $280 billion over the next 10.”

$223 million in funding cuts (4 percent decrease from this year’s levels) to the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

– “$4.9 billion, or 8 percent, cut in education, training, employment and social services” grants.

$100 million cut for Head Start, which provides child development services to economically disadvantaged children and families.

– “$2.4 billion cut in community and regional development grants — which often provide funding for low- and middle-income communities — to $16.5 billion from $18.9 billion.

$400 million — 18 percent — cut in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, “which provides $2.2 billion to help people pay heating bills this year.”

$172 million — nearly 25 percent — cut in funding for housing for low-income seniors.

While Bush forgot about the middle class in the new budget, he made sure to look out for the wealthy. As the Tax Policy Center notes, “People with incomes of more than $1 million would get tax cuts averaging $162,000 a year (in 2012 dollars) in perpetuity.”

— Igor Volsky

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Last week, the Veterans Affairs Department announced that its health care costs had risen faster than expected, “forcing the agency to shift money among accounts to cover the shortage.” On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously approved $1.5 billion in emergency funds for VA health care programs.

“[Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim] Nicholson told lawmakers Tuesday that the administration had vastly underestimated the number of service personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who would seek VA medical treatment. The estimates had been based on outdated assumptions from 2002, he said.”

David Gorman, the executive director of Disabled American Veterans discusses the funding shortfall and the politicization of veteran healthcare and services. [Listen to interview]

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The Washington Post is reporting that President Bush’s proposed budget would “eliminate many of the federal rules requiring public housing authorities to serve extremely low income people” resulting in “one of the most dramatic policy shifts in the 68-year history of public housing.” The President has wrapped the rule change in the rhetoric of “self sufficiency and encouraging home ownership.”

And while Republicans frequently lecture Americans on fiscal discipline, they rarely apply the same standards to large multi- national corporations. Take, for instance, the example of Defense Department officials providing Dick Cheney’s Halliburton with some $1.4 billion in “unjustified fees.”

  • $152,000 in movie library costs
  • $1.5 million in tailoring costs
  • $560,000 worth of unnecessary heavy equipment

The list goes on. Read the full report here.

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