America's Spending Priorities Out Of Whack



OK, this is going to sound really naive. It's the kind of question you'd expect from an earnest, if not slightly annoying, 12-year-old.

"Why is it that our representatives can easily raise endless amounts of money for war, but can't adequately fund human needs?"

Exhibit #1: The Washington Post recently ran an article documenting the loss of child-care subsidies to low-income, working parents. Because the program is terribly underfunded -- fewer than a fifth of eligible people receive help -- there's a huge waiting list, and thousands of families have no choice but to give up on work.

Exhibit #2: The Congressional Budget Office tells us that spending on the Iraq war will soon top $500 billion -- $746 billion if you throw in Afghanistan.

According to OMBWatch, the Congress will soon be asked to approve the largest supplemental funding bill ever requested by an administration -- just shy of $100 billion, mostly for the Iraq war and its sundry components.

Exhibit #3: We currently spend about $5 billion a year at the federal level on the block grant that funds childcare. Last year, we added a $1 billion increase over five years. A bill to dedicate $6 billion more died in the Senate. According to the Bush administration's own budget, if we fail to devote more resources to child care, by 2010 the families of 300,000 fewer children will get the help they need.

For those of us unhappy with this state of affairs, who believe that our priorities are backwards, the big -- giant, really -- question is what has to change?

Obviously, today's priorities are the result of politicians' perceptions that their constituents -- at least the ones they care about -- want government to wage war, not to provide child and health care for its citizens most in need of help.

I've stressed childcare for low-income workers because it's so important to their ability to escape poverty. But, think of our nation's health care -- and the 45 million Americans who have none -- in this light. What about your and my retirement security? Where are these priorities?

Doesn't it make you nervous?

If you think our priorities are out of whack, don't just sit and do nothing. Why not make it your personal responsibility to contact Rep. Renzi and senators McCain and Kyl?

Remind them that American families and children are important, too.

Larry Brophy, Payson

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