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Guns Vs. Butter

April 12, 2010
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Guess what? April  is here again and that means TAXES. Unless you filed early, taxes are probably a fresh memory or a situation you will be dealing with this week!  Filling out those income tax forms will inevitably raise the question: where does my money go?* Perhaps it will lead to other questions: What is the government doing with my hard-earned wages?  What would I do if I were spending the federal budget?  Do I have a say in how taxes are spent?

Conveniently, FCNL always keeps track of the U.S. budget, and we analyze the programs that the federal government supports through funds collected from income taxes. Plus, we have a beautiful chart breaking down the budget as pennies on the dollar.  Did you know that for 2009’s budget, the U.S. spent 33 cents out of every dollar on war? One-third of Americans’ tax dollars went for military spending, which is actually a lower figure than in the past due to inflated economic stimulus spending in 2009. 39% of the budget will be military spending in 2011.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq comprise a huge portion of the U.S. military spending. For FY2010, the federal budget included $129.6 BILLION for the wars–and now they are back asking for $33 BILLION more to last until September 30. After September, the FY2011 budget will come into effect, and in the new budget $159.3 BILLION has been allocated to pay for another year of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Obama promised not to ask Congress for more money through “supplemental requests”–but his decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan with 30,000 more U.S. troops will cost $33 Billion more than anticipated last year. (If you want to see the gory details of the supplemental war funding, see the breakdown here.)

These figures can get pretty depressing, but FCNL comes to the rescue again.  Here on Capitol Hill we know that it is possible to have your voice heard–just contact your members of Congress and tell them how you want your tax dollars spent! You can use our website to find out how to call your representatives, or take advantage of our easy email/letter generator and tell Congress to spend your taxes on things you care about like the environment, health care, or Native American programs–not on war! Also, FCNL is urging you to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper this week expressing your views.

Join dozens of peace organizations who have made this a week of action against the U.S. War in Afghanistan by contacting your members of Congress. The $33 Billion War Supplemental will be voted on within the next month.  Tell them that you want an exit strategy and a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops–not more funding for the war!

As you work through the tax filing process this year, remember that you do not have to accept the current budget priorities that put guns over butter, spending 1/3 of your income taxes on war funding. Take a moment to tell Congress and your neighbors to end the war in Afghanistan and spend your taxes to meet human needs!

[*Disclaimer: As a program assistant at FCNL, my wages are enough for me to subsist in Washington, D.C. but I do not earn enough to have my income taxed by the federal government. ]

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