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Social Security & Bush's War Budget: Where Did All the Money Go

Web Note on the implications of Bush's budget priorities to the organic
community: If "business as usual" continues in Washington, with the unjust
and criminal squandering of taxpayers' money, there will no funds left to
clean up the environment, deal with global warming, fund health care, help
feed the world's 840 million starving people, develop sustainable energy
independence from Middle East oil, or help American farmers and ranchers
make the necessary but difficult transition to a healthy and organic system
of agriculture.

>From Media Monitors <http://world.mediamonitors.net/>
Saturday 19 February 2005

Toll-free: 1 866 MediaNet

E-mail: Editor@MediaMonitors.net

Social Security and Bush's War Budget
by Joel Wendland
(Friday 18 February 2005)

"With Bush propagandizing about the fiscal "crisis" of Social Security and
his critics on the left and right pointing to a bloated $600 billion budget
deficit, it is time to look at where all the money went. Clinton¹s
presidency closed with a $300 billion surplus and rosy dreams about paying
down the national debt."

With Bush propagandizing about the fiscal "crisis" of Social Security and
his critics on the left and right pointing to a bloated $600 billion budget
deficit, it is time to look at where all the money went. Clinton¹s
presidency closed with a $300 billion surplus and rosy dreams about paying
down the national debt. (Of course, billions of that surplus were created by
cutting or eliminating programs related to welfare.)

So where did all the money go? And why did it go there?

According to the Labor Research Association (LRA), "The 2006 budget
represents a 41 percent increase in military spending since 2001." Imagine
if public education spending had been increased by 41 percent. Poverty
programs? Unemployment and job creation programs? Shoring up Social
Security?

This story, like many today, begins on September 11th. Prior to that day,
George W. Bush was struggling. Severe economic crisis compounded the nagging
problem of the very legitimacy of his presidency after the 2000 Florida
fiasco.

Instead of asking you to believe, as Bush did, that the money disappeared
because America was attacked (imagine Bush¹s smirking, psuedo Texan accent)
and we had to pay to defend ourselves, I¹m going to argue that something
more fundamental and ideological was brought to the surface on that day.

Are we to believe that Bush cares about terrorism aside from how well it
will propel his agenda? How often have you heard the words "terror alert" or
see the color coded system that Tom Ridge used to trot out when Bush wasn¹t
polling well? According to the Department of Homeland Security website, as
of about lunchtime Eastern time on February 17, November 10, 2004 was the
last time the threat level was changed. It was lowered to "yellow."

I guess Cheney was right: terrorism would disappear if Bush was reelected ­
well, at least as an issue, anyway. What other explanation could there be?
No major mass arrests of Al-Qaeda suspects has occurred. Terrorists are
still at large in Iraq. In fact, just last month, the CIA warned that the
Iraq war will prompt a growth of terrorist forces globally.

But not to worry, Bush was appointed by God and a few thousand stolen votes
in Ohio to keep you safe, so don¹t worry about terrorism.

Social Security is the new crisis. Well, at least it will be in 50 years.
But we have to have a crisis mentality about it now. Focusing on terrorism
would distract us simple-minded Americans with our short attention spans.

The Bush administration uses this crisis mentality as a tactic. It recalls
something the Reagan administration did fairly well. David Stockman,
Reagan¹s budget policy adviser and "free market" ideological toady,
masterminded it, in a paper presenting the administration¹s ideological and
fiscal goals called, "An Economic Dunkirk." Essentially, it sought to
provoke and create a series of managed crises that would present the public
with few options regarding the government¹s finances: cut, eliminate, and
scale back social spending, while expanding military spending.

(Dunkirk was the coastal town where the first Allied invasion force into
Europe was defeated by the Nazis in 1940. The intended image is that we are
caught between the advancing enemy army and the sea. What are we going to
do?)

Communism and terrorism were the boogeymen coming to get us, and "welfare
queens" were keeping us from adequately defending ourselves. Remember?

They claim communism is gone, and certainly don¹t want to revive that
boogeyman. After all capitalism was supposed to have won because of its
superiority. So if communism returns, maybe capitalism¹s not so hot. (Let¹s
ignore the fact that Communist Parties have been elected to governments or
play influential roles in the civil societies of a growing number of
countries.)

So terrorism is the bad guy, and all the same Cold War rules apply: don¹t
dissent, don¹t analyze the situation, and the only solution is a military
one.

9/11 presented Bush with his original Dunkirk. How could he go wrong?
Military budgets shot up. Few critics emerged, except on the left, to
challenge the notion that tax cuts for the rich, ignoring the growing
unemployment problem, billion dollar airline bailouts, and shoving Enron
corruption under the rug was our patriotic duty. Racial profiling and
attacks on public institutions became a top priority.

Do you subscribe to Political Affairs?

As paralysis wore off and people started to question the direction of the
administration, the drums of war began to rumble.

The new "Dunkirk" was suddenly Iraq with WMD that could kill Americans and
the friends of Americans within 45 minutes. When the skeptical
ne¹er-do-wells pointed out that UN inspectors had destroyed most of what
Saddam had and that sanctions prevented him from acquiring more, evidence
was conjured up, cartoons were drawn, satellite photos were taken, exiles
were bribed, and expert testimony was carefully censored.

Meanwhile, No Child Left Behind defunded elementary public education on a
massive scale and a new outrageous tax cut for the rich sneaked in the back
door, while the rest of us were waving our arms and shouting about fake
"yellow cake" in Niger and Colin Powell¹s fabricated report to the UN.

Presto. War. Two years and $210 billion later, we are asking, what happened
to all that money? (Never mind the very basic question of why we ended up in
a war when the reasons for it were unfounded. Remember that all of the Bush
administration¹s reasons for war were shown to be false before the war, and
since then, the collapse of Hussien¹s regime revealed no WMD and no real
connections to Al-Qaeda.)

Bush¹s 2006 budget provides some answers to our nagging question. It is
both an ideological statement and an agenda. The first noticeable element of
the budget is that while Bush proposes to cut or eliminate 150 programs, the
Pentagon gets a 4.8 percent boost ­ not counting the money for the war and
related expenses. According to the Labor Research Association (LRA), "The
2006 budget represents a 41 percent increase in military spending since
2001."

But this is needed to fight terrorism, say Bush¹s supporters. Never mind
the fact that the "terror threat level" has been ignored since the election.

People in the world are out to get us and they don¹t like our freedom, they
retort. A quick comparison, according to LRA, shows that the second largest
military spender is China, at approximately $51.0 billion a year, followed
by Russia at $50.8 billion, Japan at $41.4 billion and the United Kingdom at
$41.3 billion. Iran and North Korea ­ key states in the "Axis of Evil" ­
spend a whopping $5 billion each.

Imagine if public education spending had been increased by 41 percent.
Poverty programs? Unemployment and job creation programs? Shoring up Social
Security?

According to the National Priorities Project, almost 2.7 million public
school teachers could have been hired with the same money so far spent on
Bush¹s Iraqi "Dunkirk." Almost 1.4 million public housing units could have
been built. Over 92 million children could have been provided health
insurance.

By the end of 2006, $210 billion will have been spent on the war in Iraq.
With a $600 billion deficit, where does that money come from? What do you do
when you are at the "Dunkirk" of having to buy groceries for the week or
taking your kid to the dentist for a chipped tooth that isn¹t covered by
your flimsy insurance? You break out the Visa.

Our government has the very nasty habit of breaking out the Visa, not for
kids health care, as I noted above, but for extra fighter-bombers, star wars
missile defense systems that don¹t work, artillery models that are obsolete,
wars that aren¹t necessary, and so on.

All of this extra deficit spending is coming directly out of the Social
Security Trust Fund. Each year, workers pay more into the system than
retirees take out. Instead of holding onto that money and keeping Social
Security secure, George W. Bush is flashing the cash to every military
contractors' lobbyist that slinks into the Oval Office.

And he¹s giving it away overseas, too. As long as you¹re not a tsunami
victim, AIDS victim, or a resident of Darfur. But if you live in Poland
where they¹re thinking about pulling out of Iraq (remember Bush¹s election
debate boast that Poland was a great ally?), a 50 percent increase in
military assistance might convince you to stick with Bush¹s program. Or if
you live in Ukraine, $105 million might go along way to not only helping to
elect the guy Bush liked better, but getting your new government on the
neo-con track.

Our "Dunkirk" is now. Bush and privatization are on one side and the
economic hardship are on the other. Either we hand over the funds needed to
protect Social Security to Bush¹s corporate backers and for a war we didn¹t
want, or we fight back. Sign petitions to stop Bush¹s plan at the AFL-CIO
website and the MoveOn.org website. Get your congressional representatives
to pledge to protect Social Security from Bush's privatization plan here.


Source:


by courtesy & © 2005 Joel Wendland