BUSH ADMINISTRATION IN A BUDGET DILEMMA

Hurricane Relief or Continued US War Policy? Senate opposes inflation of the deficit.

By Rainer Rupp

[This article published in: Junge Welt, 9/24/2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.jungewelt.de/2005/09-24/012.php.]


A revolt in underway in George W. Bush’s Republican party. This revolt is not because of the Iraq war or the failure during hurricane “Katrina.” The stone of offense is the president’s sudden spending frenzy. With over $60 billion of federal funds, the president wants to promote the reconstruction of the devastated area in the south of the US. Since the state should be kept out of the life of citizens according to the political creed of fellow members of Bush’s party, the republicans in Congress on Wednesday refused to support the costly relief promises of their president for “Katrina” victims. In the meantime, the next hurricane is ravaging parts of Texas.

The republican senators made fun of the fact that the Bush administration previously had not explained how it would finance the relief for the “Katrina” victims. They rejected another inflation of the budget deficit that soared through armaments and tax gifts to the rich.

According to a current study of the Washington Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), the Iraq war is the most expensive military adventure of the US in the last 60 years. With monthly costs of $5.6 billion, the costs of the Vietnam War of $5.1 billion a month adjusted for inflation are surpassed. According to estimates of the congressional Budget office of August 2005, the continuation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will lead to a doubling of the budget deficit of the US government in the next ten years.

Cuts were made in other budgetary areas in the past years since the Bush administration wants to continue its wars and at the same time somewhat control the explosion of the deficit. The consequences were fatal. For example, $105 million was earmarked to strengthen the levees around New Orleans. The program was cut to $40 million in favor of spending in Iraq.

The policy of the Bush administration led to the cancellation of a whole series of social programs. In 2006, the reduction or elimination of 150 federal programs is lined up. These cuts include vocational training, adult education, programs promoting the social interests of communities, environmental protection and heating cost subsidies for the poor. In many posts, the federal government has already shifted responsibility. Greater savings are not possible any more.

On the other hand, reconstruction costs of $200 billion arise for “Katrina” and possibly similar costs for “Rita.” Bush is trying to square the circle. Greater sums to benefit the storm victims can only be saved by the military at the expense of the Iraq war. The majority of US citizens are in favor of that relief according to current polls…