Dead Men Left

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Lenin's been even busier than usual. Green MEP Caroline Lucas' thoughts on Iraq and globalisation deserve a lenghtier response.

For now, though, I wanted just to pick up on Lenin's use of Zygmunt Bauman's thesis of a switch from "social state to security state", developed in Bauman's latest book, Europe: An Unfinished Adventure. Could there be any better illustration of the process than Bush's latest fiscal excitement?

Sweeping cuts in welfare, education and housing programmes for the poor were the centrepiece of austerity budget proposals announced by George Bush yesterday to meet his campaign pledge of halving the US budget deficit in his second term...

The spending document presented yesterday projects a deficit of $437bn this year, and proposes to respond by eliminating or scaling back 150 government programmes. The Pentagon will receive a 5% increase to $419.3bn in 2006, while spending on homeland security to prevent a repetition of the 2001 terrorist attacks will rise by 7%.

The cuts include $1.1bn from the food stamps programme which helps the poorest people in the US buy groceries. The plan also includes squeezing Medicaid, the scheme that provides healthcare for the poor, and cuts in drug subsidies aimed at veterans. Education programmes facing the axe include some aimed at anti-drug efforts and literacy.

The department for housing and urban development is facing some of the biggest cuts. Mr Bush has proposed a $3.7bn reduction in spending, 11.5% of the agency's budget, with programmes targeted including housing grants for the disabled, Aids patients and urban renewal schemes.

Another $500m is being trimmed from the environmental protection agency, almost 6% of its budget.

...and all these trimmings so neatly tailored for Wall Street's finest.