I agree with Rep. Barney Frank, chair of the House Finance Committee, that those in Congress who are complaining the most about President Obama's stimulus package don't make a peep when it comes to congressional appropriation of $10 billion a month on the war in Iraq.
Yes, those, largely Republicans, who moan and groan about the pork in the stimulus package see the grotesque expansion of the defense budget to widen the war in Iraq not as pork but as prime rib. Frank is right---the defense budget must be cut, and we, as a nation, must revisit our values.
Indeed, the whole paradigm of the military industrial complex, which another president, Eisenhower, warned against, doesn't work. If it did, we wouldn't be where we are today.
How important are cluster bombs, spy programs from outer space, and the kinds of "star war" defense programs of Reagan when an estimated one in five children, in this country, live in poverty, and the number of homeless is growing daily? And, those who find themselves fortunate enough to have a roof over their heads, often live in conditions that are one step above squatting. Do we call it "pork" when a budget includes increases to spending on education, health, the arts, unemployment, food stamps, and family planning? When we reward the landlords, and the CEOs, whose family values are we extolling?
When the Senate votes on the President's stimulus package, they must keep in mind that what Mr. Obama is proposing, in essence, is moving us from a wartime to a peacetime economy. We have only to look at the egregious loss of manufacturing jobs to realize that the old capitalist model of war as fueling prosperity is dangerously outmoded. Time to try something else.
Barney Frank is right. Those same folks who brought us the Republican Revolution, back in 1994, are still around to nudge us into thinking that they've got the copyright on protecting the American family, but it is their values, their wars, and their lack of judgment that has gotten us where we are today. What's more, the founders never intended to put a warning label on the Constitution: "Caution: democracy may be hazardous to your health."
It's time now to turn the tables: to restore dignity, and opportunity, to every working man, and woman; to ensure that, when one loses one's job, one is no longer forced to forfeit their health coverage, to provide women with alternatives to unwanted pregnancies, to show, once again, that hard work, not chicanery, will lead to a better life.