While the Bush administration and its friends at Bechtel and Halliburton are benefiting from the war in Iraq, it is working people who are paying the bill. An unprecedented $79 billion have been appropriated so far to cover the cost of the war, and the ongoing occupation of Iraq could cost at least $20 billion per year.
War expenses, combined with an ongoing recession and Bush’s gluttonous tax cuts, are eating up funds for social services and causing budget cuts at the federal, state, and local level. Unfortunately, Iraqis are not the only victims of this war.
Students are paying for the war. The NY Times recently pointed out that the $79 billion budgeted for war is more than the entire outlay for the federal Department of Education in 2003. Tuition at public universities has increased more in the last year than it has in over a decade. On the K-12 front, districts in eight states have decreased the school week to four days in response to budget cuts.
People of color are paying for the war. Cuts in health care, education, jobs, and other social programs disproportionately affect people of color. Racist justifications for the war increase scapegoating of people of color, from airports to the mass media.
Union members are paying for the war. Across the country, union workers are losing hard-earned jobs and benefits. In New York City, the center of international capitalism, Mayor (and billionaire) Michael Bloomberg handed out 5,400 pink slips after demanding $600 million in ‘concessions’ from municipal unions. City officials have hinted that 15,000 more may follow.
Guess Who’s Not Paying for the War?
Congress isn’t paying for the war. The Chickenhawks live – only 2 out of all 535 members of Congress have a son or daughter in the military.
The rich aren’t paying for the war. The richest people effectively pay only 5.2% of their income in state and local taxes, while the poor pay over 11%, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. If Bush eliminates the federal tax on stock dividends, the wealthy will benefit, while the 50% of US households that own no stock will not.
And big corporations definitely aren’t paying. In fact, they receive over $100 billion per year in direct federal subsidies. Corporate tax loopholes account for hundreds of billions more. The recent war spending bill includes a $2.9 billion bailout for the airline industry, which just received $1 billion in contracts to fly soldiers to Iraq.