Tax Day: Figures don’t lie, liars figure

Tuesday is Tax Day, which prompts people to ask: What is the government doing with my money?

Well, there’s a trillion or two or three for the Iraq war.

Not to worry, says President Bush.  The war is consuming only a “modest fraction” of the country’s wealth.

The National Priorities Project says that in 2007 the federal government spent 42.2 percent of every income tax dollar on military spending.

There’s an old cliche that figures don’t lie but liars figure.  Who you gonna believe — the guy who lied us into the war?  

Here’s how Bush does his math:

Mr. Bush said in his speech on Thursday that the Defense Department budget today represented slightly more than 4 percent of gross domestic product, compared with more than 6 percent in some years of the Reagan administration and as much as 13 percent in 1952-3, when the United States was engaged in the war in Korea.

As someone I know says, “Everything in life is ‘compared to what?'”  The New York Times explains that’s just a tad misleading:

But the war in Iraq is largely being paid for off the books, with emergency and supplemental spending rather than from the Pentagon’s operating budget, so Mr. Bush’s figures are a low estimate of the relative cost of the war, analysts have observed. And growing entitlement costs today make such comparisons with previous eras questionable.

The National Priorities Project measures it another way — using real numbers to show the impact on an American family.

It says the median income family in the US paid $2,628 in federal income taxes last year. Of that, the military got $1,109, or 42.2 per cent.  

Bush’s proposed spending for the next fiscal year includes another $139-billion for the Iraq war, and $111.6-billion in tax cuts for the richest people in the US.  

Meanwhile, weatherization help for low-income families to insulate their homes would be totally eliminated.  And public transportation would be cut to 14 per cent below when the war began five years ago.

That’s why they call it the National Priorities Project.  It’s about making choices. The Bush administration — and the Democratic Congress — have been making some bad ones.

The National Priorities Project also has info on what those federal spending priorities mean to your state or city, available here.

Tax Day protests are planned in many cities on Tuesday.  Three days later, Friday, April 18, Iraq Moratorium #8 will be observed across the country. Do something.  


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