By Sarah Jost
This week, the United States House of Representatives is voting on spending bills for the fiscal year ending in September 2013. Reading through the proposed labour, health, and human services funding bill, particularly when compared to the defence appropriations bill, is so surreal it is almost laughable.
While the House is set to approve a $699 billion discretionary defence budget, they proudly announce that they want the labour, health, and human services funding to come in at $150 billion, ‘$6.3 billion below last year’s level and $8.8 billion below the President’s budget request.’
New polls indicate dissatisfaction with Obama based on the perception of a worsening/stalemated economy, yet the Republicans in the House boast that their proposed labour bill, and I quote from the House’s press release, ‘provides $12 billion for the Department of Labor, which is $497 million below last year’s level and $72 million below the President’s request.’ While the American people, the American media, and the Republicans themselves continuously bemoan the state of the economy, they are boldfacedly cutting labour spending to $12 billion and wanting to funnel $600 billion into defence.
Similarly, the bill proposes, and again, I am not making this up, only $70 billion for the Department of Education, ‘which is $1.1 billion below last year’s level and $2.9 billion below the budget request.’ The short-term problem of a poorly-funded education system will soon become the long-term problem of an entire generation entering the workforce undereducated and unprepared. Then the American people will continue to lament the state of the economy, while there is no one qualified to create jobs, fulfill jobs, and sustain it.
According to the New York Times, in 2010, the World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. 48th out of 133 developed and developing nations in quality of maths and science instruction. Also in 2010, Bloomberg.com reported that ‘fifteen-year-olds in the U.S. ranked 25th among peers from 34 countries on a maths test and scored in the middle in science and reading,’ according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development. The National Math and Science Initiative reports that while 25 years ago the U.S. led the world in high school and college graduation rates, it has now dropped from 16th to 20th.
A country who prioritizes military spending over the health and education of its citizens is not only shortsighted, but also hypercritical, as long as its citizens and Congress members continue to complain about the state of the economy, as those who are unhealthy and undereducated remain less able to contribute to the restoration of the economy.
The Labor, Health, and Human Services Funding Bill also ‘contains language prohibiting funding for Planned Parenthood unless it certifies it will not provide abortions.’ Please see my plea in defence of Planned Parenthood here. If you take issue with any of the proprosed budget, you can contact your elected officials here.