War budget passes

January 2, 2023

Days before the New Year, President Joe Biden signed a $1.7 trillion fiscal year 2023 omnibus bill, allocating the budget for that sector of federal spending called “discretionary.” If one had to describe the bill in two words, they would be: “war crime.”

Before examining the role of the Republican and Democratic imperialist war parties in handling this bill, we should describe the budget as it really is.

The budget provides the funds for a war on the world’s people, including on the working class within the United States. It hands the Pentagon more money than Biden even asked for, over $850 billion. It funds the proxy war in Ukraine against Russia; it increases military aid to the Israeli regime to oppress Palestinians and seize more of their land.

Adding Military Construction/Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and the outlay for police and prisons to the budget for the Department of Defense, more than $1.1 trillion will be used to strengthen the state repressive apparatus.

That comes mainly from taxing income withheld from the working class. Remember that a trillion means a million millions, one followed by 12 zeros.

This budget’s character is no surprise to Marxists who track government spending. An analysis at the Speaking Security Newsletter (stephensemler.substack.com) summarizes that budget. The budget uses workers’ taxes to finance the Pentagon’s worldwide reach and imperialist plunder and to enforce exploitation of the working class at home.

Regarding the two parties that are the political wings of the imperialist War Party, they both supported military spending and adding funds to Biden’s proposals. The omnibus spending bill passed the House 225-201. All House Democrats but two voted for the budget; all the Republicans but eight voted against it. In the Senate, many Republican senators voted for the bill, and all the Democrats did, including Bernie Sanders.

Of the House Democrats, only Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voted against the budget, and Rashida Tlaib voted “present,” which is something like abstaining. This means that even the most progressive, social-democratic sector of the Democratic Party had only token opposition.

Many House Republicans made noises objecting to the high sums spent for military aid to the Kiev regime in Ukraine, but no one should misinterpret their “no” vote as opposition to imperialist war. They spoke out mainly against any part of the total budget that might aid some of the poorer members of U.S. society, all of whom they consider undeserving, even of the crumbs offered. And they complained that aid was sent to Ukraine but that no wall was built on the U.S.’s southern border to punish human beings from the Global South for the crises that imperialism has created.

Democrats, on the other hand, boasted that they pushed through some programs that benefit the poor. To the small extent that was true, it fails to justify a vote for this war budget. Feeding the war in Ukraine risks nuclear confrontation with Russia, and the continued belligerent moves by the Pentagon against China can easily turn from cold war to hot — a war crime.

The budget vote showed once more that any movement wanting to stop the imperialist war buildup must abandon the belief that electing Democratic Party politicians will accomplish this. Look instead to the developing movement in the working class; organize demonstrations in the streets — like those called this month by the United National Antiwar Coalition — and build a movement outside the two dominant capitalist parties.

They are the war criminals — the working class must be the war resisters.