Tag Archives: budget

NC’s Final budget delivers hits to legal services, emergency judges, Department of Justice

It’s only been a little over 24 hours since the North Carolina General Assembly introduced its final budget and its already well on its way to a House vote after passing the Senate on Tuesday.

There is plenty to read in the 438-page document and plenty to get confused about. Below are a few highlights from the Justice and Public Safety budget:

Raise the Age

Lawmakers have finally agreed to raise the juvenile age of prosecution from 16 and 17 years old to 18 years old. The final budget allocates $519,600 the first fiscal year toward “Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act Planning” and $478,000 the second fiscal year.

The budget policy decision mandates that 16- and 17-year-olds who are accused of committing misdemeanors and two classes of felonies no longer be automatically prosecuted in the adult criminal system.

The policy decision also increases the information available on juveniles to law enforcement and establishes a juvenile jurisdiction advisory committee to help with implementation. You can read more about the decision beginning on page 309 of the budget.

The proposed budget would cut $1.7 million in legal services programs across the state, affecting those most in need and almost assuredly creating unequal access to justice.

The Access to Civil Justice Act funds all traditional legal services programs, including Legal Aid Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC), Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and Pisgah Legal Services.

As written in the final budget, the provision means that $1.50 of every court fee imposed in District and Superior Courts would no longer be distributed to the North Carolina State Bar for legal services. It could also mean reducing LANC staff across the state by 50 to 60 or more positions.

More from NC Policy Watch

Posted by Libergirl

US Eyes $1.1 Trillion National Security Budget for 2018

Even With State Dept Cuts, Overseas Spending Continues to Rise

The most recent figures related to President Trump’s proposed increases in Pentagon spending, along with cuts at the State Department, show the general national security budget of the United States rising once again, with the 2018 proposal in the ballpark of $1.1 trillion.

Needless to say, that’s the biggest military budget on the planet by a far measure. As the figures are broken down into their component parts, however, it becomes particularly shocking just how money is disappearing not just into the general war-fighting budget, but into related costs of having such a massive military for so long.

For interest, Veterans Affairs is expected to eat up $183.5 billion, which by itself comes very close to being the second largest military budget on the planet, just behind China’s $200 billion overall cost for its vast military. Figuring in other retirement costs, the cost of retirees is even bigger.

This $1.1 trillion also includes over $112 billion that just represents the interest on the military’s share of America’s massive national debt. This interest alone would be more than the cost of NATO’s next two largest member nations’ militaries, Britain and France.

Even cuts in international affairs don’t really put a debt into how much the cost of everything else is rising, and with plans for a massive modernization scheme related to America’s massive nuclear weapons arsenal, the $21.8 billion nuclear weapons expenses for 2018 could easily explode manyfold, with the expectation that they’ll dump well over $1 trillion just in the modernization scheme over the years to come.

The costs of retirees and debt are likewise things that could rapidly grow out of control, as increases in the amount being spent on fighting in the present inevitably leads to even more retirees and an even vaster debt to service.

By Jason Ditz/AntiWar

Trump’s budget slashes $3.6 trillion from domestic programs over 10 years

Trump’s budget slashes $3.6 trillion from domestic programs over 10 years

Trump’s budget slashes $3.6 trillion from domestic programs over 10 years
The Trump administration’s $4.1 billion budget proposal calls for increased spending on law enforcement, the military and the US-Mexico wall, but cuts spending for programs for the poor by slashing funding for Medicaid and cutting food stamps.

“We looked at this budget through the eyes of the one’s paying the bills,” said Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.

“[F]or years and years we’ve looked at the budget in terms of the people in the back end of the program, the recipients of the taxpayer’s money, and we haven’t spent nearly enough time focusing our attention on the people who pay the taxes. Compassion needs to be on both sides of that equation,” he said.

Under this view, Medicaid, a federal-state health care program for the poor and disabled, would be slashed by more than $600 billion over 10 years. It also envisages capping payments to states and providing more flexibility to manage Medicaid recipients.

During question time, a reporter asked Mulvaney about Donald Trump’s announcement as a candidate that he would “Save Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid without cuts – gotta do it,” and whether the Trump was keeping his promises now that he’s president.

“We are not kicking anyone off any program who really needs it,” Melvaney responded. “We have plenty of money in this country to take care of everyone who needs help. But not enough for everyone who doesn’t need help.”

Trump is the first president to propose parental leave, Mulvaney said.

The budget outlines a paid parental leave program that accesses a state’s unemployment insurance scheme, but doesn’t include how the federal government will allocate funds to the program or how much. That’s because the states are being asked to figure out how to fund the program, which will probably fall on employers to fund, as unemployment insurance does in most states.

“The proposal will allow states to establish paid parental leave programs in a way that is most appropriate for their workforce and economy. States would be required to provide six weeks of parental leave and the proposal gives it broad latitude to design and finance the program,” stated the budget.

Under the budget plan, $191 billion would be cut from the food stamp program over a decade, representing a 30 percent reduction. The program currently serves 42 million people, a number that hasn’t changed much in a sluggish, recovering economy.

“We need people to work,” Mulvaney told reporters on Monday. “If you are on food stamps, we need you to go to work. If you are on disability and you should not be, we need you to go back to work.”

More than eight in 10 food stamp recipients, or 83 percent, are for households with children, the elderly or a disabled person. The average food stamp benefit is $133.85 a month, or the equivalent of $1.50 a meal. Working people who rely on food stamps are often times using it to supplement their lower income jobs where state and federal minimum wages have not been adjusted to meet living expense increases.

 

More from RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

War, Militarism, and Middling Opposition Different Administration Same Story

In the run-up to budget discussions, the Trump Administration floated various proposals for a dramatic increase in military spending on top of the already bloated $596 billion Pentagon budget. This, figure doesn’t even represent the true expenditures devoted to war-making and militarism in the $1.1 trillion discretionary side of the national budget. The $596 doesn’t include the $65 billion in veterans spending and $26 billion for nuclear weapons. That brings the total to about $690 billion or 63% of all discretionary spending! To fund this outrageous theft of the peoples’ resources for the military/industrial/complex, the Administration called for unprecedented cuts to various Federal agencies and departments since everything is supposed to be revenue neutral.

Now a reasonable person might conclude that for an oppositional party that claims to be the voice of the downtrodden and committed to social justice informed by “liberal values,” Trump’s proposals to take a meat cleaver to state agencies in order to increase military spending and indeed his whole budget recommendations would be a godsend for democrats since militarism has a direct impact on working people and the poor. Even republican president Dwight Eisenhower understood this in what today’s right-wing U.S. culture would read as a radical statement:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

Yet, instead of vigorous opposition and mass mobilizations from the loyal opposition, the democrat party is still trying to hold the public’s attention with the nonsensical drama related to supposed collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign., As though collusion between campaigns and foreign governments is something new – think Nixon’s efforts to sabotage peace efforts in the ‘68 campaign and Reagan’s campaign’s coordination with Iran and release of U.S. hostages that sunk Carter’s presidency.

What is so incredibly inept about the strategy to keep the focus on Russia is that the issues that could really begin the process of driving a wedge between the Trump administration and the independents and white workers who voted for Obama in ’08 and ’12 but voted Trump in 2016 — the healthcare issue, no support for an increase in minimum wage, tax cuts for the rich — are there to be exploited if the democrats were really a serious oppositional party with an alternative reform agenda. This is precisely the point. The democrat party is not a serious oppositional party.

The absence of any real opposition to the reckless use of U.S. military force — the attack on Syria, the macho demonstration bombing in Afghanistan, the provocations toward North Korea — exposed once again the unanimity among the U.S. ruling class and the state on the use of military force as the main strategy to enforce its global interests.

What this means for Black and oppressed people, in the capitalist centers in the West and in the Global South is that we cannot afford the luxury of diversionary politics when it is our bodies that are in the crosshairs of an F-16 in Libya and a Glock 9mm in the hands of a racist cop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For us, unrestrained militarism and war has always meant death and destruction.

It also means that attempting to build oppositional coalitions to confront and defeat militarism and neoliberal state austerity cannot depend on effective and consistent support from democrat party related structures both inside and outside of the democrat party such as many of the nonprofits and labor unions. It even means that it is becoming more difficult to build opposition to war and militarism among the U.S. left and progressives because these sectors along with the corporate media and the general public have fallen prey to what Rashna Batliwala Singh and Peter Mathews Wright calls “imperial privilege.”

Imperial privilege is this strange ability on the part of the U.S. public to “shrug off” the consequences experienced by people impacted by the direct and indirect result of U.S. militarism. That is precisely why pro-imperialist politicians like Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren can be designated as “progressives” and vast numbers of voters can rally around a warmonger like Hilary Clinton without suffering much moral distress.

It is also why there is not much discussion of the consequences for the people of Korea if through macho posturing the Trump administration sparks a military confrontation on the Korean peninsula or why there are no calls from the public to stop Saudi war crimes in Yemen and it seems perfectly acceptable that the entire U.S. Senate would sign-on to a letter to the United Nations condemning it for its bias against Israel. And it is why “Trump became president” of all the people after ordering the military to engage in an illegal attack on Syria.

According to Batliwala Singh and Mathews Wright:

Imperial privilege makes it possible for even the liberally-inclined to turn a blind eye to the toxic footprint of U.S. militarism at home and abroad; to fall silent at any mention of the homicidal decisions of an American President; to exclude such matters from public political discussion and to prevent them from influencing their voting patterns in any way.

So, while Trump only got a $15 billion dollar increase in the budget compromise, the “commonsense” acceptance of war by the public at this point makes it more likely that the Administration will be successful in securing billions more of the public’s resources for war-making in the 2018 budget that will be debated over coming months.

The irreconcilable contradictions of capitalism, fueled by white nationalist sentiment has produced a toxic, proto-fascist politics. This is the context in which we must build an alternative to the neoliberalism of the Democrats and the nationalist-populism of Trump.

The drive toward war, domestic repression, and the militarization of society can only be stopped by the people. But that will not occur until there is a shift in the culture and consciousness of the public. A shift in which the inherent value of all lives is recognized and a new kind of politics is practiced in which the people are able to recognize that their interests are not the same as the interests of the capitalist oligarchy and that they have a responsibility to victims of U.S. imperialism around the world.

By Ajamu Baraka/Dissident Voice

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Trump Proposes $54 Billion Defense Spending Hike

Image: CNN via CBS Philly

President Donald Trump proposed a $54 billion increase in defense spending Thursday as promised, a plan that the White House says will provide the necessary funding to ramp up the fight against ISIS, improve troop readiness and build new ships and planes.

Released as part of Trump’s $1.1 trillion budget outline for 2018, the 10% boost to the military comes at the expense of deep cuts to non-defense spending at the State Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency and dozens of other federal programs.

More from CBS Philly

Posted by Libergirl

Why Is It So Hard to Reduce the Pentagon Budget?

Until Americans let go of the urge to go and do whatever they want with the military, overspending is here to stay.

It’s not that that budget has never been reduced. At pivotal moments, like the end of World War II as well as war’s end in Korea and Vietnam, there were indeed temporary downturns, as there was after the Cold War ended. More recently, the Budget Control Act of 2011 threw a monkey wrench into the Pentagon’s plans for funding that would go ever onward and upward by putting a cap on the money Congress could pony up for it. The remarkable thing, though, is not that such moments have occurred, but how modest and short-lived they’ve proved to be.

More from Alternet

Posted by  The NON-Conformist

John Kasich’s not-so- great Ohio Recovery

As the primary rolls into Ohio where Gov. John Kasich might finally be able to overcome Donald Trump, the traditional media is taking a closer look at his tenure back home—and that great recovery he’s always boasting about.

Ohio has indeed gained several hundred thousand jobs since Mr. Kasich took office, and he turned an imposing budget gap into a surplus while also cutting income taxes, all accomplishments that back up his boasts.

Image: Daily Kos

But a closer review of his record shows the reality is more complicated. Other states recovered from the recession more quickly than Ohio did. He closed the budget shortfall in part by cutting aid to local governments, forcing some of them to raise their own taxes or cut services. And increasing sales taxes helped make the income tax cuts possible.

More from Daily Kos

Posted by Libergirl