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The Bombs that Fall on Baghdad Hit in Birmingham
April 24, 2003
By Steven Attewell

Some of the most curious fallout of the War on Terror has been the fact that, despite Bush's substantial bounce in popularity, a small group of Republican moderate senators who previously caved to the party line on previous votes stood up to the White House and managed to halve Bush's tax cut, and kill the proposal for ending taxes on dividends. Why would members of Bush's own party defy him on such a crucial issue?

The answer is the deficit and its effects on domestic government. The first Bush tax cut, which was billed as the panacea for any economy, so far has resulted in no stimulus and a historic $400 billion dollar deficit that's left the government almost powerless to stimulate the economy and has also left every state in the Union drowning in debt.

Now that an extra $80 billion has been added to the deficit for the War on Iraq, it is high time to reflect on the costs of war here at home. According to figures published by the group TrueMajority, $6 billion of war appropriations could have insured every child in America without health insurance. $2 billion could have fully funded Head Start - a program which aids poor schools which was once a priority for this administration - and $1 billion could have provided full public funding for federal elections, eliminating the pervasive influence of lobbyist dollars. All this while leaving more than $30 billion to double education funding and save public schools which are closing their doors early this year, and $10 billion to double humanitarian aid to poor countries, reducing the poverty and the resentment which fuels terrorism.

The numbers get even more startling when you consider how much money we already spend on the military. The $4 billion of the "No Child Left Behind Act" that was cut from this years budget went instead to the C-130 Aircraft Avionics Modernization Program which outfits old Boeing 747s for use as military transports. The $55 million that could have saved New York City's public libraries instead bough us a whole 2 extra MH-60 S-Helicopters, of which we already possess 237. $59 billion that could have housed all of the 600,000 homeless families in America instead built us the newest version of the Comanche helicopter.

The question is one of priorities: which is more important, American military defense or the Constitutional duty to provide for the "general welfare" of American citizens. When the Gulf War and the War on Iraq show us how much we invest in over-kill, given our total military dominance, one wonders exactly how much more we have to spend to be safe if what we have now isn't good enough. Terrorists don't fly fighter jets and they don't drive Abrams tanks - they use AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades which can barely scratch us; so why the rush to increase military spending?

The obsession with military spending is more than a mistake: it's a deadly one, that annihilates the social programs that keep the most vulnerable Americans this side of starvation and allow the rest of us to live at a decent standard of living. When public funds get cut, private dollars which could have gone to consumption (new houses, cars, college tuition) or investment (pension plans, trust funds) have to go to fulfilling basic needs, and the economy tanks, shedding more jobs and wrecking more pension plans, and the spiral continues. When you remember that all of this is done in the name of our safety, you really have to wonder how safe an impoverished nation can be.

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