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Truman Budget Sacrifices
Human Needs to War Costs

A-Bomb Gets 7 Times More Than New Housing Program

(17 January 1949)

From The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 3, 17 January 1950, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

$32 billion of Truman’s proposed $42 billion federal budget for the next fiscal year will go to jiay for past wars and preparations for the next war. Only $10 billion will go to all other government expenditures.

Less than $600 million is formally budgeted for the start of Truman’s promised “Fair Deal” program of housing, aid to education, health insurance, etc. This contrasts with $740 million Truman asks for the Atomic Energy Commission to develop and produce atomic bombs.

The A-bomb alone will get nearly seven times as much as Truman’s much-vaunted low-cost housing program. Proposed new projects for low-rent housing will get only $129 million.

Extension of social security benefits, including old-age pensions, and financing of the proposed health insurance program will come directly from the pay envelopes of the workers themselves. The budget calls for increased payroll taxes of nearly $2 billion per year.

Topping the budget list is $14.3 billion for direct military expenditures – an increase of $2.5 billion over last year’s budget. For “international affairs” – that is, the conduct of the “cold war” another $6.7 billion is added.

Thus, one half of the entire budget – the largest war budget in peacetime history – will go to feed militarism at home and abroad. However, Truman warns in his budget message that “defense expenditures ... are expected to he higher in 1951.” He added that the budget for “international affairs” does not include sums for military supplies that he intends to request later for North Atlantic Pact countries and “certain other countries.”

One of the four biggest budget items is interest on the country’s $252 billion war debt – $5.4 billion to the bankers and bond-holders to maintain the government’s Credit, so it can pile up new debt to keep the arms profiteers happy.

Another 13% of the budget – $5.5 billion – goes to veterans benefits. This is a slash of $1.3 billion from last year’s figures. Part of this cut in benefits to the victims of past wars is the cancellation of 24 veterans’ hospital projects and a reduction in the planned capacity of 14 other hospitals. This is the only war cost that has not been increased.

Proposed expenditures for direct military and “cold war”, purposes – exclusive of the A-bomb and other war items concealed under headings like “Natural Resources Development” – are nearly ten times the total sums-budgeted for social welfare, health and security; These amount, to less than $2.4 billion, an increase of only $400 million over the last budget.

Total expenditures for “Housing and Community Facilities,” including projects already authorized and under way, will be increased by only $39 million, to $388 million. But only $144 million of this is for public housing, including the $129 million project yet to be authorized by Congress.

Here in cold dollars and cents, stripped of all demagogy and “Fair Deal” phraseology, is the real Truman program. It spells “guns instead of butter,” a heavier and heavier tax load on the masses, militarism and war.

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