Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The cost of killing.

It is well-reported that George Bush wants a staggering $623 billion for the Pentagon, and it is reported that he may seek more. It has perhaps been less noticed this side of the pond that much of this money is coming out of healthcare.

While the military budget is outrageously inflated, and Homeland Security is to get more billions for 'border security and immigration control', Bush plans to slash Medicare by $66bn, and Medicaid by $12bn. Cuts are also expected to be imposed on the education budget. At the same time, he is trying to consolidate his radical restructuring of the tax system for the benefit of the richest 1%, but cutting almost two trillion dollars from tax over the next decade. The capitalist class will surely be delighted with its generous R&D tax credits, and its increased take-home pay, but its media outlets appear uneasy at the riskiness of these proposals. The Bloomberg wire service, for instance, describes the plans as "a menu of politically perilous cuts affecting the poor, the elderly, and the disabled."

Some of the Democrats may well be inclined to limit Bush's agenda and curtail his wilder excesses, for the sake of appearances if nothing else. However, the Democratic Senator who chairs the Finance Committee, Max Baucus, says he wants to find a way to keep Bush's tax cuts. Further, practically every commentary on the matter asserts that the Democrats will go along with most of the increase for the military if not all. A number of them have already clammed up when invited to endorse a resolution criticising Bush's escalation of the war in Iraq. Much depends, as ever, on how much pressure the Democrats feel under.