In God we trust?
The Federal Budget as a statement
Friends Committee of National
Washington Newsletter, April 2002
The federal budget is more than a blueprint
for spending. Just as an individual's spending priorities reflect
that person's values, federal spending priorities are a reflection
of national values.
In recent weeks, both the executive and
legislative branches of the government have offered spending blueprints.
On February 4, Pres. Bush delivered to Congress his budget request
for fiscal year 2003 (FY03). On March 20, the House passed its
FY03 budget resolution which adheres fairly closely to the President's
request. The Senate Budget Committee reported its version of the
budget resolution on March 22. Although analysts consider this
version more prudent fiscally than the House spending plan, the
full Senate has not approved the resolution. We can expect the
House resolution to serve as the spending guide for the appropriations
The [Bush] Administration, House, and
Senate have similar visions of national priorities. Massive increases
in military spending are coupled with grossly inadequate spending
on most domestic and international programs that address human
needs, the environment, and the common good.
All three blueprints would accentuate
economic injustice. Spending to meet the needs of poor and vulnerable
populations has been effectively cut in favor of huge military
allocations. Moreover, the Administration and House versions would
lock in last year's tax cuts that benefit, overwhelmingly, high-income
persons. Even spending for some domestic programs (such as health
care) has been framed in ways that will result, primarily, in
benefits for wealthier persons.
Both the Administration and a majority
in Congress have opted to address threats to national and international
security by building a mightier military machine rather than by
removing the seeds of war and violence. Despite the rhetoric,
non-military aid to the poorest countries remains a minuscule
portion of the federal budget.
The U.S. government leaders whose visions
are represented in these budget blueprints have created an idol,
the military machine. They require the people of this country
to sacrifice to this idol. Not only tax dollars, but the lives
and futures of the nation's young people, the health of communities
and society, and the well-being of natural resources and the environment
are all offered up at the altar of military might.
Prophets of every age have sounded an
alarm at the sight of such idolatry. They have known that the
outward piety of a people and their leaders cannot atone for acts
of violence, oppression, indifference to human need, or disregard
for fairness and the common good.