EDITORIAL: Taxes: for what? from whom?

It’s tax season. But what, exactly, does our tax bill pay for? For one, the $161 billion the Bush administration is spending in the coming year on the immiseration of Iraq and Afghanistan. Given that astronomical figure, it’s astonishing that this is only about 14 percent of all military spending. Overall, the military accounts for a whopping 51 percent of all your federal tax dollars.

That’s right: 51 cents out of every dollar you pay in federal taxes goes to the Pentagon’s death machine.

Of course, taxes are necessary. The federal government must have them to provide services people desperately need. But this administration’s priorities are hopelessly out of order.

While requesting billions for his Iraq adventure, Bush proposes in 2008 to slash the federal Head Start program. This program, which provides school-readiness for children in need, is already beleaguered. Montana Head Start employees, for example, are paid less than workers at McDonald’s. With the cuts, 30,000 children would be denied access to needed services.

The same is true of all important human needs programs, from education to social welfare. Even necessary military spending is out of whack: Bush plans to cut funds for veterans even as his war kills, maims or psychologically destroys dozens of U.S. soldiers daily.

And who pays these taxes? Working people pay a disproportionate share, while the Bush administration has been slashing taxes to its rich cronies for years.

The New York Times wrote April 5 that Bush’s investment income tax cuts alone have reduced taxes on people with incomes of $10 million — as if they need any tax cuts! — by an average of $500,000.

Something is shamefully wrong with an administration that sees no problem in bankrupting America by spending billions for war and cutting taxes for the shamefully rich, while gouging the very working people who bear the brunt of the war and taxes through cuts to every government program that could increase their standard of living.

On April 16, think about your taxes, and think about another important date: November 4, 2008.