Social democracy in peril.
The new fascism.
Coming Together at the Seams
The view from Porto Alegre ...
... and direct action in New York.
Not Just Black and White
LOCAL MOTION: Oak Park, Illinois
A Scandal Bigger than Enron.
An Open Letter to George W. Bush
Kenny Boy? Never heard of him.
The military busts the 2003 budget.
Bush stealth-attacks reproductive rights.
Bush hands AIDS policy to the Christian right.
Chechnya remains mired in misery.
Ann Pettifor: Discrediting the Creditors.
BOOKS: Micah Sifry follows the third way.
BOOKS: Randall Kennedy's Nigger.
MUSIC: Something is in the water.
FILM: Let's play Rollerball.
February 19, 2002
The military busts the 2003 federal budget.
Clad in a leather bomber jacket and surrounded by the weapons of the war on
terrorism, President Bush was certainly trying to link his new budget to the
fight against the axis of evil. At the Elgin Air Force base in Florida
on February 4th, he announced his request for a $48 billion increase in military
spending, the largest in almost two decades.
If Bush has his way, the total budget for military spending in 2003including
military functions of the Coast Guard and the Department of Energywill
reach $396 billion, an $87 billion increase from when he took office in January
Standing against a backdrop of F-15 and F-16 fighter planes, an A-10 warthog,
and a huge American flag, Bush argued that the United States needs new military
spending to address new threats and a new security environment. It is
very clear that the defense budget is cheap when one compares it to putting
our security at risk, our lives at risk, our country at risk, our freedoms at
risk, Bush said. But his rhetoric ignores the fact that this new military
spending spree has little to do with fighting the war on terrorism.
About one-third of the $68 billion allocated for weapons procurement in the
new budget proposal would pay for Cold War systems with no relevance to the
current war or future conflicts being imagined by war planners. This includes
an additional $12 billion to fund three new fighter plane programs: the Joint
Strike Fighter, F-22 and Super Hornet. On the campaign trail, Bush repeatedly
said that the U.S. could not afford and did not need all three systems.
The 70-ton Crusader artillery system, despite being designed to fight land
battles against the Soviet Union, too would be fully funded at $475.2 million.
These and other Cold War relics are slated to receive $21.2 billion in the fiscal
year 2003 budget. The Bush administrations proposed increase alone is
larger than the entire military budget of every other country in the world except
Russia, which spends about $60 billion on the military each year.
Bushs new budget is a four-volume tome printed on heavy glossy paper.
The cover is a picture of the American flag, and the pages are full of photographs
and charts. In language clearly drafted before the Enron scandal hit the front
page, the budget calls on government to emulate the efficiency of the private
sector, saying, dollars will go to programs that work, those programs
that dont work will be reformed.
What works and what doesnt can depend on where you are sitting.
Jesse McDonnell and other high school students at the Youth Opportunity Center
in Portland, Oregon probably thought their program was working pretty well.
President Bush even told them so. On a West Coast jaunt in early January, Bush
dropped in on the center that provides job training to about 1,400 students
in one of Portlands poorest neighborhoods. He praised the good instructors
there for helping people help themselves.
Bushs new budget slashes $545 million from job training programs around
the country. For the Youth Opportunity Center, that is likely to mean 80 percent
cuts in funding and maybe the end of the program. McDonnell was stunned when
he heard about the cuts. I was like, How could you come visit here
if youre going to do that?
A Bush administration official defended the cuts, saying the aim was to get
rid of duplicative services and support proven programs like the
Job Corps. But job-training programs such as the Youth Opportunity Center are
only two years old, and program backers say it is too soon to gauge their overall
impact. The centers executive director, Antoinette Edwards, says, Given
the time weve had, it feels as though were about to have the plug
snatched out. We feel like were onto something big.
Its not just job training that Bush seems to think doesnt
work. The White Houses budget proposes cuts at the Justice and Labor
departments and appropriates no new money for Commerce, Agriculture or the Interior.
Moreover, proposed increases in the budgets for education, the environment and
space exploration do not reach the rate of inflation.
But the Pentagon wants even more money. The ink was barely dry on the White
House proposal when the Pentagon began preparing its case that the $48 billion
increase over last years allocation is not enough money. Gen. Richard
Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed Congress the next day
to call for increased spending of more than $100 billion a year for several
years. Can we really afford that?
Frida Berrigan is a senior research associate with the World Policy
Institutes Arms Trade Resource Center.