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Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Spending priorities

In today's news:

Item 1:

The Road Home, the government grant program created to help Louisianians rebuild, has not been so giving. It has sent checks to about 43,000 of the 184,000 people who sought assistance, and is $5 billion short of what it needs to help the rest. That's progress: At the start of the year less than 1% had gotten a dime from the program, which pays up to $150,000.
Item 2:
President Bush plans to ask Congress next month for up to $50 billion in additional funding for the war in Iraq, a White House official said yesterday, a move that appears to reflect increasing administration confidence that it can fend off congressional calls for a rapid drawdown of U.S. forces.

The request -- which would come on top of about $460 billion in the fiscal 2008 defense budget and $147 billion in a pending supplemental bill to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- is expected to be announced after congressional hearings scheduled for mid-September featuring the two top U.S. officials in Iraq.
The headline on the second item, from the Washington Post, is telling: "Bush Wants $50 Billion More for Iraq War." No, according to the article itself, Bush wants $197 billion more for the Iraq War (and as you all realize, there's plenty of "Iraq War" in that $460 billion "defense" [sic] budget as well, not to mention elsewhere in the budget). Was it really that difficult for the Post to add 50 and 147 and come up with 197? No, of course not, but anything they can do to help the Bush Administration keep fighting the war (in this case, by minimizing public awareness of the total expense) they're glad to do.

Let me help a bit with some more math. $197 billion divided by a population of 300 million means that the average person in the United States is going to be charged $656 this coming year alone for this war, or $1705 for the average household of 2.6 people. I don't know about you, but I can think of 1705 better things to do with the money.

And if you don't like thinking about it on a personal level, try it on a larger scale. A city of one million, like San Jose, would have $656 million more this year to spend on its pressing needs like infrastructure, health care, education, and more. Money they don't, and won't, have, and needs which will go unmet. Not to mention the unmet needs of New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast.

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