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I'm not sure how it's possible that no one seems to hear Dennis Kucinich when he brings up this issue in EVERY debate -- it's a major concern of his. I don't know if he talks about it on the floor of Congress, but as a candidate, he most certainly does. I'm an Edwards girl myself, but I am still aware of Kuncinich's willingness to go out on a limb and discuss this all the time. We should give credit where's due - how about a follow-up?
This segment has made me nauseous. These numbers, when compared to spending for health care, international aid, etc. make it pretty obvious why more and more people across the globe resent the US.
The reason defense spending is so high comes from post- WW2. Even President Eisenhower could not compete with the defense industry. Its all about money and congressional influence. The defense industry manufactors or has presence in all 50 US states and a majority of Congressional districts. It would be political suicide for a congressman to vote against a spending bill because it would most likely effect his constituency and he would be accused of lack of patriotism for not giving the troops what they need. Until Congress unites and puts a cap on defense spending it will continue to rise out of control.
About three-fifths of the federal budget covers expenses that are written into law, including payment on the national debt, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. This is usually called "mandatory" or "entitlement" spending.
The part of the budget that the President and Congress create each year is called the discretionary budget. In the just-concluded fiscal year, more than half of the discretionary budget for a toal amount of $463 billion was spent by the Pentagon. These dollars don't include funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan , nor do they include most homeland security programs, which are paid for in other areas of the budget.
In contrast to the $463 billion spent by the Pentagon bureaucracy, look at what we're spending on federal programs that politicians often describe as too expensive:
# $38 billion on K-12 education , # $50 billion on children's health insurance, # $13 billion on humanitarian foreign aid, # $6 billion on job training, # $2 billion on renewable energy research, # $8 billion on the Environmental Protection Agency.
We may be able to spend this money in this way, but is this how we ought to be spending?
The federal budget for 2008 proposed by President Bush was $2.9 trillion, of which $700 billion would account for 24%.
4% of GNP for the military budget is more than double of what European nations, e.g. Britain, spend. There it's closer to 1-2%
Can you talk about the percentage the US military budget in terms of the entire World's military spending?
Are the costs for care of wounded and other veterans included in these budget numbers? What budget planning or estimates are done for the tail costs - i.e., the long term medical, educational, pension and other benefits which will be rightfully owed to the veterans?
Has Mr. Kaplan seen (and agree with) the premise of the "Why We Fight" documentary which came out last year, and advocates that the military indusstrial complex basically operates with no restraint?
Worse than Enron!
The dirtiest little secret is that the Pentagon budget cannot be audited to within +/- $50 billion in any year. A comparable auditing failure would land a $billion CEO in prison for life!
Couldn't $750 billion rebuild (maybe twice) devastated New Orleans AND given at least a minor boost to Social Security AND Medicare as well?
Is Congressional provisioning of Iraq bucks via "emergency spending" rather than regular budgeting considered "subprime" financing?
Should Congress be judged on choosing this sort of funding, on moral and political grounds, and if not why not?
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Brian Lehrer leads the conversation about what matters most now in local and national politics, our own communities and our lives.
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