It’s almost April 15. Do you know where your taxes are?
A new study by the National Priorities Project says the federal government spent almost half — 42.2 percent — of every 2007 income tax dollar on the military. Nearly 29 percent went for current war and military spending and another 10 percent for interest on the military debt — but just 3.5 percent for veterans’ benefits.
At the same time, the NPP said, only 8.7 percent of tax dollars went for anti poverty programs, 4.4 percent for education, training and social services, and 2.6 percent for the environment, energy and science programs.
“The current administration made a priority of funding a half a trillion dollar war in Iraq and a yearly military budget of the same amount at the expense of virtually everything else,” said NPP spokesperson Greg Speeter.
Other analysts have put the Iraq war’s monetary cost even higher. Economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes entitled their recent book “The Three Trillion Dollar War.”
The NPP breaks down the war spending by states, and calculates other ways the money might have been spent:
• Nearly $20 billion paid by Pennsylvania taxpayers so far could have provided almost 5 million people with health care.
• North Carolina’s $14.1 billion could have built nearly 1,100 new elementary schools.
• Indiana’s $8 billion could have funded over 1 million university scholarships.
• Oregon’s $4.2 billion could have provided almost 4 million homes with renewable electricity.
State budgets across the country face huge deficits this year. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says at least 25 states will face a total of at least $39 billion in deficits in fiscal 2009. Immediate causes include lost revenue because of the foreclosure crisis. But three decades of repeated draconian cuts in federal funds have forced states and cities to struggle to pick up the slack for ever-shrinking human needs programs.
Just the money paid for the Iraq war by residents of these four states could more than redress those deficits.
Wouldn’t that be better than spending our hard-earned money on a cruel and unnecessary war?