As the poor and middle-class continue to bear the brunt of these hard economic times, struggling to pay for housing, food, heating and health care, the Pentagon today announced its request of $515.4 billion for its 2009 budget. (The Bush budget later revealed a correction – the request is actually $518.3 billion – the Pentagon “forgot” $2.9 billion of “permanent appropriations.”)
According to the New York Times, this seven percent increase would make annual military spending, when adjusted for inflation, its highest level since World War II. Further, the budget request doesn’t even include war funding, nuclear weapons programs, taking care of returning veterans, or covering the interest on defense spending’s share of the debt. The Bush Administration has already increased “baseline military spending” by 30 percent since taking office, and the $70 billion Iraq supplemental alone was more than China’s entire defense budget.
Meanwhile, the Bush Budget fails to address – and even exacerbates – real threats to security that Americans are experiencing every day. More people are going hungry, and the President proposes eliminating food stamp coverage for more than 300,000 people in low-income working families with children. More people can’t pay their bills, and he would cut 22 percent from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The Community Services Block Grant, “a $654 million program that provides housing, nutrition, education and job services to low-income people,” would be eliminated. The Hope VI housing program would also be killed. Representative Spencer Bachus of Alabama, one of 53 House Republicans who voted to support the program, told the Times, “The program has been a success. It has eliminated some of the most dangerous and distressed public housing in the country and created livable, mixed-income communities.”