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U.S. ‘war budget’: A real congressional scandal

Several recent polls show that people in the United States are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with Congress and the government in general. The issue most scorned is the criminal Iraq war.

According to the Gallup polls, only 37 percent of Americans gave Congress a high approval rating. This is the lowest


The U.S. government has alloted well over half a trillion dollars for war and weapons next year.

amount since 1999. It is down from 45 percent last month. The catalyst appears to be the scandals dogging Congress each day everyday, particularly those surrounding Mark Foley and Bob Ney.

People certainly are outraged at politicians who prey on children and sell themselves to corporate lobbyists for money. But the main cause of the public’s dissatisfaction with Congress is the Iraq war.

Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center told Reuters on Oct. 15 that the upcoming mid-term election has become “a referendum … in the minds of voters on the Iraq War.” Pollster Dick Bennet of the American Research Group said that Iraq “dominates” focus groups he conducts with voters.

If the scandals are not what concern people most, why is the capitalist media giving them so much coverage?

The more time the media spends on Mark Foley, the less time they have to spend on Congress’s real misdeeds. One of the biggest crimes recently perpetrated by Congress was passing a massive defense budget. Democrats and Republicans banded together to pass it in the interests of imperialism.

The U.S. Senate voted 100-0 in favor of the new “war budget.” While some Democratic politicians complain about Bush’s management of the war, there is near-unanimous support for the war budget.

The Department of Defense’s actual budget is $377.6 billon, plus an extra $70 billion solely for Iraq, making the total $447.6 billion for 2007.

The number makes the U.S. defense budget the highest in the world by far. But the “official” number does not reflect the true amount that will be spent on imperialist war and militarism in 2007.

Built into the capitalist system

The bill passed by congress was only the Department of Defense budget, which does not include other defense-related spending.

The Office of Budget and Management refers to the total amount as the “National Defense Budget.” The full amount includes things like money for nuclear weapons, which goes into the Department of Energy’s budget, and maintenance of the existing nuclear stockpile. There is also $58.9 billon not included in the DOD budget that goes to military construction and “quality of life improvements.”

This extra money was deliberately separated from the DOD bill several years ago and funneled into the House’s subcommittee for construction and quality of life spending. The maneuver put the extra funds in a separate bill that is  voted on separately. Thus, it stays far away from the high-profile DOD bill each year.

A more accurate total for the U.S. government’s military budget is as follows: $447.6 billion in regular DOD appropriations $58.9 billion in construction and “quality of life” spending; $17.0 billion for new nuclear weapons; $4.8 billion in “miscellaneous” spending requested by Bush; and an extra $60 billion in Iraq war money, projected based on current costs.

All told, the 2007 U.S. military budget will fall somewhere between $566.9 billion and $586.9 billion dollars. Even these more accurate numbers fail to account for tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars in additional “emergency spending” that the Bush administration will ask for next year. Such “emergency” funds pay for the colonial occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and other imperialist adventures.

At a time when 47 million people in the United States lack healthcare coverage, when public school systems across the country are falling apart and when college is more unaffordable than ever before, this amount of U.S. tax dollars being spent to wage wars and build nuclear weapons is an outrage.

Massive war spending is not a policy, it is a necessary part of the capitalist system. Congress must continue to fund war to open up new markets, conquer foreign lands and maintain and enhance U.S. imperialist domination. All of this is meant to ensure the continued supremacy of the capitalist class.

Scandals like the Foley and Ney affairs are not really scandals at all. They rarely pose any problem for the capitalists unless they get out of hand and threaten their rule.

The biggest scandal Congress faces—continued approval of the massive war budget—is also its biggest crime, a crime perpetrated against the multinational U.S. working class and workers and oppressed peoples all over the world.

Click here to read more about the 2007 Pentagon budget.
Click here to read about U.S. military spending and North Korea.


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