Zen Garcia - February 7, 2006
United States Budget
People with disabilities are increasingly being put at risk by the Bush administrations focus on funding the 'war on terror' and the development of a 'police state' in America. "While the Pentagon budget is soaring, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, warns that President Bush is proposing to make cuts in hundreds of domestic programs. This includes education programs, environmental protection programs, numerous programs to assist low-income families, children, and elderly and disabled people, and research related to cancer, heart disease, and other medical conditions. In one case, the Center estimates 420,000 low-income seniors will lose food assistance from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program." The 'war on terror' while bankrupting this country, is doing nothing to protect our domestic borders, and is simply fueling the terrorists and providing them with massive recruitment opportunities especially when you take into account the torture being perpetuated on Muslims as a 'tool' in this war on terror. Homeland Security did nothing to aide Americans during Hurricane Katrina, but when it comes to establishing a police state here at home; they are striping Americans of our constitutionally guaranteed rights and civil protections in the name of security. The President's warrantless authorization for NSA to spy on Americans (mostly antiwar groups which let's you know who the government thinks the enemy is) is currently being hotly debated in congressional hearings as the executive branch tries to establish dictatorial powers overthrowing constitutional balance in the branches of government. 52% of Americans like me are calling for IMPEACHMENT.
Most important to Bush Jr. is funding wars of occupation which the American people were purposefully deceived and tricked by lies into supporting. We should be impeaching the President over his refusal to explain the Downing Street Memo not authorizing further funding especially when it is now known that over 8.8 billion dollars of taxpayers money simply disappeared and ten's of hundred of millions of dollars were squandered through elaborate schemes to defraud the American taxpayer and the Iraqi citizens who were supposed to benefit from our assistance.
The Pentagon budget for the financial year beginning on 1 October boosts current spending on defense by 6.9 percent, bringing the total amount spent on the military to a record $439.3 billion. Under the proposed budget, defense spending will increase nearly 7 percent to $440 billion. If approved the Pentagons budget will become 45 percent larger than when Bush took office five years ago. One recent estimate put the cost of the Iraq war at $100,000 every minute.
In 2 reports one by Truthout the other by MSNBC details of elaborate plots to defraud American taxpayers and Iraqi recipients include an agent who kept almost $700,000 in unexplained cash in an unlocked footlocker, an assistant to the US military coach for an Iraqi sports team gambled away as much as $60,000 in reconstruction funds in the Philippines, little oversight over an oil pipeline repair contract resulted in more than $3 million in overcharges, including billing for work not done.
Other details include how investigators reviewed 43 contracts and found 29 had incomplete or missing documentation. For each of the 29, "We were unable to determine if the goods specified in the contract were ever received, the total amount of payments made to the contractor or if the contractor fully complied with the terms of the contract." An example cited, a contract for 15 double-cab pickup trucks for an Iraqi police department paid $87,500 before the trucks were delivered and an additional $100,000 without getting written records that the trucks arrived at the police department. In an article called "Staggering Amount of Cash Missing in Iraq" Three US Senators have called on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to account for 8.8 billion dollars entrusted to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq that is now missing. They pointed to "disturbing findings" from the inspector general's report that the payrolls of some Iraqi ministries, then under CPA control, were padded with thousands of ghost employees. They refer to an example in which CPA paid the salaries of 74,000 security guards although the actual number of employees could not be validated. The report says that in one case some 8,000 guards were listed on a payroll but only 603 real individuals could be counted.
Haliburton overbilled American taxpayers $199 million dollars charging $50 dollars an hour to employees paid less than $5 dollars an hour in Iraq. Investigators looking into Haliburton fraud in Iraq could not track down 52 of 164 randomly selected items in an inventory of more than 20,000 items overseen by KBR, a subsidiary of Haliburton The missing items included two electric generators worth nearly $1 million, 18 trucks or sport utility vehicles and six laptop computers. Auditors were unable to account for $97 million of the $120 million in Iraqi oil revenues earmarked for rebuilding projects. We are wasting tens of hundreds of millions probably billions if not trillions of dollars in occupying Iraq and Afghanistan when it is clear we are not wanted there(Iraqi poll Afghani poll) and even our troops on the ground do not support the war with 1/3 calling for immediate withdrawal; all the while our borders remain wide open with terrorists elements killing Americans right here in our own country but where is the mainstream media reports on this?
These wars risk bankrupting our nation with both the trade deficit and national debt at record all time highs. This President has borrowed more money than all other President's combined. Bush has declared a war on the American poor and middle class, calling for a reduction in 'non-discretionary spending' while at the same time increasing Defense spending to record levels. People with disabilities are being forced into poverty, starvation, and death while the Pentagon and Defense Department don't even have to account for the billions of dollars they squander. What makes these claims even worse is that this has been an ongoing trend for the Pentagon who had a Trillion dollars missing in 2003. While people with disabilities die from lack of wealth for food, shelter, and health care; the government wastes money which could prolong the quality of life for millions of Americans who suffer right here in our own country.
Bush Jr. claims he will spurn the economy by making permanent the tax-cuts he proposed back in 2001. However careful study of making permanent the proposed tax-cuts benefit only the wealthiest of Americans. In an article entitled "The Cost of Tax Cuts" put out by 2 senior economists at the Bookings Institute shows how detrimental the effects will be to our countries revenue intake and how the brunt of these tax-breaks will be deferred to the working class. William G. Gale and Peter R. Orszag claim, "Making the tax cuts permanent would generate large, backloaded revenue losses over the next 10 years. Combined with a minimal but necessary fix to the government's Alternative Minimum Tax, making the tax cuts permanent would reduce federal revenues by almost $1.8 trillion over 10 years - and that's in addition to the $1.7 trillion of revenue losses already locked into law. By 2014, the annual revenue loss would amount to $400 billion, or 2 percent of gross domestic product - almost the size of this year's federal budget deficit."
" Paying for the tax cuts would require monumental reductions in spending or increases in other taxes. To offset the revenue losses in 2014 would require, for example, a 48 percent reduction in Social Security benefits, a 57 percent cut in Medicare benefits, or a 117 percent increase in corporate taxes. Over the long run, making the tax cuts permanent would cost as much as repairing the shortfalls in the Social Security and Medicare Hospital Insurance trust funds. Thus, to the extent that Social Security and Medicare are considered major long-term fiscal problems, making the tax cuts permanent should be seen as creating a fiscal problem of equivalent magnitude. Making the tax cuts permanent would be regressive; that is, it would confer by far the biggest benefits on high-income taxpayers. Once plausible methods of financing the tax cuts are taken into account, more than three-quarters of households are likely to end up worse off than they would have been if the tax cuts had never taken effect."
They end their Report with, "The 2001 tax cut was a centerpiece of President Bush's electoral campaign in 2000, and much of the 2003 tax cut was a partial acceleration of the 2001 tax cut. Now the administration proposes making these tax cuts permanent. It is astonishing that, more than four years after the proposal was first made public, the administration has still not released an analysis of the plan's long-term economic effects, or even a statement of how it intends to pay for the tax cuts. Even supporters of the tax cut would presumably like to know the answers to those questions."
The President's just released 2007 year budget recommends at least a 5 percent increase for Homeland Security up from this year's funding of $30.8 billion. Similarly, the budget will contain an increase of nearly 5 percent in the Pentagon's funding for next year. The $439.3 billion includes $84.2 billion for weapons systems, an 8 percent increase in weapons spending. Not wanting to limit the scope of his budget, estimates do not even include the military expenditures being expended in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the Pentagon announcing it intends to ask Congress for an additional $120 billion -- not contained in the new spending plan -- to help pay for the wars this year and next.
Both Medicare and Medicaid are being slashed significantly putting at risk people with disabilities and the poorest of the poor. Medicare spending is being reduced by $36 billion by 2011 -- and by $105 billion a decade from now. About $20 billion of the $36 billion would come from reducing automatic payment increases to hospitals and other institutional providers, such as ambulance services and skilled-nursing facilities, while the rest would be spread among other forms of care. The Medicare spending slowdown over the next 5 years Bush envisions is larger than the $6.4 billion in Medicare reductions that Congress approved after intense political fighting, in the current year's budget. Medicaid, Congress agreed would be cut by $4.7 billion, less than half what the White House requested last year.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) at the behest of Veterans Affairs Chairman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), reported findings that found unrealistic assumptions, errors in estimates, insufficient data, and an unresponsive budget model contributed to health care funding shortfalls at the Department of Veterans Affairs in fiscal years 2005 and 2006. Certain categories of care that required additional funding not included in the initial budget recommendations for the VA, were care for returning veterans of the war on terror, funding for long-term care, and care for higher priority patients essentially those who have service-connected disabilities, have special disabilities, such as spinal cord injuries, and the indigent. Learning of these and other shortfalls, Chairman Buyer began the effort that provided VA $1.5 billion in supplemental funding for 2005, with unused funds available for this year. The VA was unable to use the sum total of appropriations requested and therefore rolled over more than a billion dollars into 2006. I have heard from Veteran's on the ground here in the States that the VA is denying veterans care. Let them know that you know they have a surplus and see what they say.
In a press briefing at the Pentagon, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the record amount allocated for defense in the 2007 budget proposal submitted to Congress on 6 February would be used to boost the United States' ability to both fight unconventional terrorism and win conventional wars. "The President's budget request for the Department of Defense represents an increase over last year. It reflects what we believe should be the country's national-security priorities, namely to help defend the United States of America and the American people and their interests, to give flexibility to commanders, to prepare for both conventional and unconventional or irregular warfare, and, importantly, to work closely with partner nations." However, what he did not say was that most Americans feel we are less safe now than before September 11th happened and that the war on terrorism as it is being fought right now does nothing more than breed terrorism and setup the conditions which only increase terrorism worldwide. Just look at what is happening on the border here in the states.
People with disabilities and all Americans must demand oversight and an accurate accounting of the money the government has and is using to combat the war on terror. We must absolutely push Congress to bring the troops home and detox them from the depleted uranium that will eventually slaughter mercilessly most Gulf War II vets. We must also make the government honor supporting the many children being born with disabilities from these Vets. Then with the money diverted away from bankrupting wars, we must address our national debt, equalize our trade deficit, and address the severe healthcare crisis here in America as well as immediately secure our borders. I will list just a few articles here to show you how dire the situation on the border is. Only in stopping these illegal wars and protecting our borders can we begin to do the things we need to here in our own coun try to truly insure safety. Call Congress make them sign on to John Conyers attempt at censuring King George and his Neo-con Hawks. Do it before we completely loss constitutional protections and civil rights. Ben Franklin said, "Those who would give up liberty for security, deserve neither liberty or security."
According to US Customs and Border Protection agents, there have been 231 such incursions since 1996, an average of more than 28 per year. In addition, there have been cases of Middle Eastern men from terrorism-sponsoring nations gaining entry from Mexico into the US. Illegal aliens also commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime, including murder, sex crime against children and armed robbery.
In one study of a sample 55,000 illegal immigrants serving prison sentences in the US, it was discovered that they are responsible for over 400,000 arrests and over 700,000 felony crimes. In Los Angeles, 95 percent of the outstanding arrest warrants for homicide are for illegal aliens, with 65 percent of the overall arrest warrants are for illegals.
The Secret Border War
Americans for Legal Immigration
Guatamala Troops Tied to Border Drug War
Border emergency declared in New Mexico
Arizona governor decares state of emergency along Mexican border
Mexican commandos seek control of border
Mexican Drug Commandos
Border Wars Data Page
Mexican drug cartels' wars move closer to U.S. border\
Former DEA Agent: Mexican Commandos Killing In South West US To Protect Bush Drug Cartel
BBC US shuts Mexican border consulate
Border Police Chief Only Latest Casualty In Mexico Drug War
Reuters US renews Mexico travel warning as killings mount
AP U.S. consulate reopens in violent Mexican border city
WT U.S. agent accused of aiding illegals
AP Men who shot Border Patrol agents wore black military-style garb
Illegal Alien Crime Wave in Full Swing
Mexican commandos seek control of border
Mexican Drug Commandos
Federal agent killed in Brownsville gun battle
U.S. officials say Zetas (Mexican Commandos) have killed in Texas
Mexican special forces take control in border town
US-trained Mexican commandos pose threat to authorities
BBC US reopens Mexico border mission