On March 9, Joe Biden announced his budget plan for fiscal year 2024. Not much of it is likely to pass, since there’s a slim majority by Republicans in the House, and much of it is in preparation for the 2024 election. He proposed many social programs and tax increases on the wealthy, many things which he didn’t even fight for when Democrats controlled both the House and Senate. Biden likely made these proposals because he knows they won’t pass, but he can still say he’s at least trying. He touts the paltry things he was able to pass and continues to promote his rose-colored outlook and some elements of economic populism, similar to what he pushed at the State of the Union, though with continuing low approval ratings, we can be sure that the many workers and oppressed realize that the rosy picture is far from reality.
You saw it at Thanksgiving, and you’ll likely see it at your next holiday feast: piles of unwanted food – unfinished second helpings, underwhelming kitchen experiments and the like – all dressed up with no place to go, except the back of the refrigerator. With luck, hungry relatives will discover some of it before the inevitable green mold renders it inedible. U.S. consumers waste a lot of food year-round – about one-third of all purchased food. That’s equivalent to 1,250 calories per person per day, or US$1,500 worth of groceries for a four-person household each year, an estimate that doesn’t include recent food price inflation. And when food goes bad, the land, labor, water, chemicals and energy that went into producing, processing, transporting, storing and preparing it are wasted too.
At the end of the school year, Annie Tan, a special education elementary school teacher in Sunset Park in Brooklyn, New York, said teachers typically have a party. This year, however, that celebration was mired by the loss of 16 teachers from her school who are being excessed (ie, moved to different schools and positions) as a result of massive public education budget cuts that are being enacted by the New York City Board of Education and Mayor Eric Adams’ administration. The loss of those teachers, and the resulting vacancies that will remain unfilled, means that Tan’s students will continue to not have an art program, and dual-language programs will be limited for students who are still learning English.
In Abbott Elementary, an ABC sitcom about an underfunded elementary school in Philadelphia, Quinta Brunson plays Janine Teagues, an enthusiastic 2nd-grade teacher who attempts to overcome every obstacle with her grit and determination — a flickering light in the back hallways, the perpetual lack of basic school supplies, a complicated reading software program. Barbara and Melissa, the older, more experienced teachers, remind her “to just worry about what you can control.” And for years, that’s what teachers have done. We’ve made do. Having kids paint with water, like Barbara, when there’s no money for paints. Ponying up pieces of our salaries to buy books for classroom libraries, highlighters for writing activities, pencils, food for hungry kids, printers, microphones, even textbooks. You name it, we’ve bought it.
A recent debate over the fiscal budget for 2022-2023 for the City of Detroit revealed the political character of the current administration and City Council. The budget was approved for $2.4 billion in a municipality where a majority of the population are African American, working class and impoverished. There were efforts by grassroots community organizations to influence the entire budget process. The Moratorium NOW! Coalition (MNC) in a public letter urged the City Council to include a $1400 “booster” check to retired municipal employees impacted by the more than 8% rate of inflation in the United States. In addition, to the booster campaign for retirees, the MNC in another correspondence to the City Council, demanded that the budget presented by the white corporate-imposed Mayor Mike Duggan be rejected due to its lack of consideration for the 80% African American population in Detroit.
Tallahassee, Florida - The $27 million in regressive sales tax money diverted from potentially legitimate Blueprint projects to enhance the football experience of powerful white friends of the Chamber of Commerce and Florida State University (FSU) trustees who could care less about poor people in general and Black and brown people in particular, represents a betrayal. It is a betrayal by Nick Maddox and every single Black politician that sold their souls in support of this FSU monstrosity. These include Bill Proctor, Carolyn Cummings, Curtis Richardson and Dianne Williams Cox. Obscene levels of Black infant mortality have not gone anywhere. Yet the Tallahassee power structure would never spend this amount of money to deal with the mortality of Black and brown infants and their mothers.
The Biden administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2023, released March 28, calls for massive investments in nuclear weapons, including the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) — an intercontinental ballistic missile system that is fiercely opposed by anti-nuclear activists. President Biden is using Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to justify the investments, citing the alleged need for deterrence. The budget proposes $34.4 billion to “recapitalize all three legs of the nuclear triad,” according to a Department of Defense summary. The “triad” is a reference to submarines, bombers and land-based intercontinental missiles, which comprise the U.S. military’s nuclear weapons program.
Guatemala City, Guatemala – Guatemalans have returned to protest across the country for the second Saturday in a row, as discontent with President Alejandro Giammattei and his government continues. More than 2,000 people gathered in Guatemala City’s central plaza to demand the resignation of Giammattei and congressional representatives who had approved the country’s controversial 2021 budget. “We are demanding that they respect our rights and that all those corrupt politicians in Congress leave,” Maria Fernanda Saldana, a 22-year-old university student...
At least 10,000 people rallied in the central square of the country’s capital, in front of the seat of government, to express their dissatisfaction after 10 months of President Alejandro Giammattei’s administration and the approval of the 2021 budget — the largest budget in the country’s history. These latest events are part of rising discontent in the country in response to the policies of Giammeattei’s government and the right-wing party he represents, Vamos, as well as the deteriorating economic situation in Guatemala, which has been devastated by the pandemic and back-to-back hurricanes this fall.
Guatemalans have taken to the streets for a national protest in rejection of President Alejandro Giammattei, and to demand that he veto the controversial general budget for 2021, approved by lawmakers on November 18. A fire broke out at the Congress in the capital city, though the main protest groups maintain that the people have continued to demonstrate peacefully in the central square which is surrounded by riot police. They warn that infiltrated groups have burned down the Congress, serving as a distraction from the popular calls in rejection of corruption.
The Postal Service is under an unprecedented strain from the Coronavirus pandemic and we all need to act. The crisis is straining every part of the Postal Service. It is putting new obligations on the USPS, while postal revenue falls. For millions of Americans, the Postal Service is their only contact with the outside world right now. Its network is keeping our prescriptions filled and food on our shelves. But when the Congress passed its huge two-trillion dollar stimulus, they left the Postal Service out in the cold! There are credible reports that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin lobbied hard to stop Congress from including financial support for the USPS in the stimulus bill. His department is in charge of the White House's attempt to sell off the Postal Service to private corporations.
The Department of Defense is quietly asking Congress to rescind the requirement to produce an unclassified version of the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) database. Preparation of the unclassified FYDP, which provides estimates of defense spending for the next five years, has been required by law since 1989 (10 USC 221) and has become an integral part of the defense budget process. But the Pentagon said that it should no longer have to offer such information in an unclassified format, according to a DoD legislative proposal for the pending FY 2021 national defense authorization act. “The Department is concerned that attempting publication of unclassified FYDP data might inadvertently reveal sensitive information,” the Pentagon said in its March 6, 2020 proposal.
For those of us who remember the $640 toilet seat, the unbelievable absurdity of Pentagon spending has long been—while unbelievably absurd—taken for granted: The Department of Defense spends billions and billions on we know not what, year after year, tra-la. Elite media reported that Congress passed a $700 billion Pentagon bill—more than Trump even asked for—and that was a blip, unchallenged, although the same press corps, faced with a proposal for healthcare, see themselves in the business of grilling proponents on how on Earth they would pay for it. Pentagon spending is untethered, unaccountable.