Bush's proposed 2006 budget has a $2.5-trillion price tag. The cost of this budget places the country in a record $427-billion deficit. ("Budget Analysis," AFSCME) A budget of this size could easily provide for a reorientation of the economy to insure universal womb-to-tomb healthcare and education along with massive investments in infrastructure and job works programs.
Instead, the budget proposal has placed 150 domestic federally funded programs on the chopping block while bolstering spend ing for the Pentagon and Homeland Security. Most of the targeted programs affect the poor and working class communities.
One third of all scheduled cuts come from education programs, for a total reduction of $1.3 billion. These include the total elimination of the Perkins Loan program, which provides college funding for low-income students, and the Even Start family literacy program.
The Bush war budget has already eliminated 300,000 students from Pell Grants and another 700,000 students from after-school programs. Bush has declared a virtual war on students at home as he seeks an additional $82-billion supplemental spending bill to sustain the war of occupation in Iraq.
The White House has consistently demonstrated that the ruling class's priorities are brutal wars of conquest and expansion and not providing for people's basic needs. But there exists another aspect to the Bush budget.
With nine out of 10 Army divisions currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan and the military falling far short of recruitment goals, the ruling class is forced to find new ways to sustain its overseas military presence.
The Bush proposed cuts lay the basis for accelerating the economic draft. High unem ployment rates coupled with decreased educational opportunities compel young people to look toward the military as a source of education and training.
This creates a situation where working class youth and young people of color are forced into the Army and Reserves out of economic necessity.
In addition, the Bush administration has engaged in some behind-the-scenes maneuvering that suggests that an actual draft remains on the table if it becomes neces sary to sustain the occupation of Iraq.
On March 31, the Selective Service System will report to George W. Bush that it is able to implement the draft within 75 days of congressional approval. ("America Readies for Draft," NewsMax, June 25, 2004) The renewal of military conscription would be an ominous sign that the current government will not be deterred in its push for foreign conquest, regardless of the consequences.
Ultimately the only way to stop anti-worker budgets and military drafts is through a revolution that will thoroughly uproot the profit-driven capitalist system and replace it with an economic system that meets the needs of all humanity: socialism. Long-term goals, however, must be accompanied by shorter term strategies and tactics.
With this in mind, it is important for youths and students to actively engage themselves in the antiwar struggle. That is why Fight Imperialism--Stand Together (FIST) organizers are calling on young people everywhere to come to New York on March 19 and rally in Central Park to demand that Bush bring the troops home now and stop the wars abroad and at home on workers, youth and students.
Hoskins is a FIST organizer. Contact FIST at email@example.com.