What Is An Emergency? Afghanistan Or Our Children?

Robert Borosage

Congress is about to pass an additional $32 billion to pay for the war In Afghanistan. It will have overwhelming bipartisan support, with legislators eager to display their fealty to the troops in an election year.

At the same time, the Congress is struggling with a $23 billion bill to forestall the layoff of nearly 300,000 teachers next year, championed by Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. George Miller. This faces a Republican filibuster and the opposition of many blue Dog Democrats, who argue that it shouldn’t be considered emergency spending. (Harkin has now given up on passing it in the Senate directly. The only hope is that the House will pass it as part of the military supplemental and perhaps then the Senators will swallow it.)

What kind of country are we? In the worst economic recession in 70 years, competitive industrial nations must choose their priorities—what gets saved, what must be sacrificed. No sensible leadership would choose to make children—particularly the children of working and poor families—pay the cost of the downturn.

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