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September, 2003

Bush Makes Cuts For Active Troops
By Catherine Powell

On August 9, a 3rd Corps Support Command soldier died from heat stress while riding in a convoy north of Ad Diwaniyah. There are news reports that chronic water shortages are limiting American troops to two 1.5 liter bottles a day, despite the 100-degree-plus heat.

Meanwhile, the Army Times newspaper reports that the troops are being nickel-and-dimed at home by the White House and its allies in Congress. A modest proposal to double the $6,000 gratuity paid to families of soldiers who die on active duty was opposed by the White House as wasteful and unnecessary. The Administration also wants to roll back recent increases in monthly pay for troops in imminent danger (from $225 to $150) and the family separation allowance for troops in combat zones (from $250 to $100).

Army Times also reports that this tax-cut obsessed administration hasn't managed to find time to make progress on minor tax provisions that would be a boon to military homeowners, reservists who travel long distances for training and parents deployed to combat zones, among others.

President Bush also cut $1.5 billion of the military construction budget, which means the troops can look forward to more substandard housing on bases back home. An attempt by Rep. David Obey (D-WI) to restore $1 billion of the funds by trimming the tax break for the 200,000 Americans who make over $1 million a year from $88,300 to $83,500 was shot down by the Republican majority on the House Appropriations committee.

While the troops are shortchanged, other special interest groups are getting far better treatment in Iraq. President Bush's Executive Order 13303, issued May 22nd, declares that any attachment, judgment, decree, lien, execution, garnishment, or other judicial process is prohibited, and shall be deemed null and void regarding the Development Fund for Iraq and all Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products, and interests therein. What this means is if any American oil company touches Iraqi oil, its actions will be immune from legal proceedings in the US. Tanker accidents, oil refinery explosions, exploitation of local labor, air pollution -- oil companies and their executives cannot be held liable for any of these.

Oil and gas companies gave nearly $1.9 million to President Bush for his 2000 campaign according to the Center for Responsive Politics; so far they've contributed another $412,000 for his re-election campaign. Of the 583 publicly-identified members of Bush's Pioneers -- well-connected individuals who pledged to raise at least $100,000 each for his 2000 campaign -- more than 70 came from the energy sector, according to Texans for Public Justice.

Soldiers, most of whom make less than $30,000 a year, are unlikely to give campaign contributions.

 

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