A Matter of Priorities
Last night, we passed another horrific milestone in Iraq: 4,000 U.S. men and women killed nearly five years to the day the war began. As Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) points out in this guest blog, the fiscal year 2009 federal budget George W. Bush is proposing includes billions of dollars to keep up the war, yet refuses to fund critical programs like children’s health care.
Just like he does every year, President George W. Bush submitted his budget proposal for 2009 to Congress last month. And just like every other year, his Republican allies in Congress were there to cheer him on.
I, along with many of my Democratic colleagues in the House, simply looked on with astonishment. It is almost inconceivable that during this period of economic uncertainty, the president would bring forth a proposal that promises nothing but more of the same—more of the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place.
Working families across the country are under siege, struggling to keep up with rising health care costs, unacceptable levels of unemployment, decreasing wages, a crisis in home foreclosures and shockingly high prices at the pump.
Even the president acknowledged, albeit after some high-profile catastrophes on Wall Street, that America’s families are having financial difficulties.
However, while he may have finally admitted what families across the country have known for a very long time, his budget certainly does not indicate that he actually understands what that really means.
His budget proposal calls for dramatic cuts in funding for critical domestic priorities, including education, health care and even national security, in an effort to sustain tax cuts for the super-rich and enormous taxpayer giveaways to corporate allies who return the favor by shipping good-paying jobs overseas.
The president has once again demonstrated that he does not understand the needs of working mothers and fathers who struggle daily to ensure their children are fed, clothed and sheltered. If he did, he wouldn’t have proposed slashing the successful Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program and raising veterans’ health care fees by $5.2 billion over the next 10 years to maintain funding for the Iraq war and bury our children and grandchildren in already unprecedented levels of debt.
Recognizing the economic realities facing America’s families, the Democratic Congress put forward and passed an alternative budget that reflects the values of working people. Unlike the president’s plan, our budget proposal expands children’s health insurance coverage; provides tax relief to more than 20 million middle-income families; makes education a priority; and invests in economic growth and job creation within the United States of America.
Since the Democrats regained the majority in Congress, we have seen a stark difference in the kind of legislation coming out of the House and Senate. From the Employee Free Choice Act passing the House to the increase in the minimum wage to the most recent Democratic budget, working families are finally becoming the priority they deserve to be.
(Read the AFL-CIO analysis of the Bush budget here.)
More articles at http://blog.aflcio.org/
Tags: Bush , Iraq , Budget , Healthcare
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