WASHINGTON - September 22 - Americans have an historic opportunity to examine federal spending priorities in the face of Hurricane Katrina's afermath and the Iraq War. The National Priorities Project (NPP), a non-partisan research group, offers a two-page overview of current federal spending policies and state level numbers on the cost of the Iraq War at www.nationalpriorities.org/misguidedpriorities.
Investment in infrastrucutre and disaster preparation prior to Katrina could have saved lives and money, according to NPP. But each year since taking office, the Administration proposed significant cuts in the Army Corps of Engineers' civil works budget. The budget for the Southeast Lousisian Flood Control project has been continuously cut since 2002. Now, the economic damage across the Gulf Coast is at least $100 billion while the level of upheaval and loss for hundreds of thousands of people defies calculation.
As the predicted catastrophe unfolds, Congress considers further divestment in communities. The House of Representatives has already passed a $300 million cut in the Army Corps of Engineers' civil works budget for next year. Congress also proposed to cut $35 billion over the next five years in programs serving low-income families, thousands of whom are in more desperate need than ever.
While the demand for federal resources reaches unprecedented levels, the Iraq War drains billions in tax dollars. Congress has allocated $205 billion so far to wage the Iraq War through fiscal year 2005. It will cost another $70-$80 billion for every year therafter if U.S. involvement and the situation in Iraq remain the same.
"There has rarely been a more compelling time for Americans to let their elected officials know whether they are making the right choices with their tax dollars," said Greg Speeter, executive director of the National Priorities Project. "We've seen all too painfully just how high the stakes are."
The National Priorities Project shows the impact of federal policies on state and local levels. NPP creates reliable estimates using data culled from various sources, primarily the federal government.