U.S. Borrowing Entire Military & War Budget

$402 billion for the Defense Department, another $50 billion to mop up in Iraq and Afghanistan, add in $20 billion for nuclear weapons research done by the Department of Energy… $472 billion (see ’s Picket Line, but note that the defense budget is bigger than you think).

Well, what a coincidence — $472 billion is about what we’re putting on the credit card this year:

The Congressional Budget Office said it expects the federal government to run a $477 billion deficit in  — the largest ever in terms of dollars. The CBO also warned Monday that the cumulative deficit that will accrue will hit $1.9 trillion, and this figure doesn’t include President Bush’s proposal to make his tax cuts permanent.

Here’s another example of how much things have changed for the tax resister, and how the tax resistance movement hasn’t caught up yet (from the New York City War Tax Resistance newsletter):

Then comes the question of simple living — the practice of living below the level of income tax liability. Though on the face of it, this is the essence of true resistance to the war machine, in that it actively proposes an alternative lifestyle, it is becoming increasingly prohibitive. There are some very innovative and committed individuals who live off the land in rural surroundings, thereby circumventing the need for a larger income. And even in intensely urban settings such as New York City, there are the brave pioneer souls who squat in abandoned buildings and “build their social structure within the shell of the old,” to quote the old Wobbly ideal. But barring these rare exceptions, it is quite difficult. Living costs are unquestionably escalating on a daily basis while income is not — especially if one chooses to live below the level of tax liability. As of , a single person under the age of 65 must have an annual income of no more than $6,250! This is hardly livable in this day and age and puts any such idealist far below the poverty line.

Last year, I made about $25,000, and I’m still living under the tax line. I could have brought in a little more. This year I’m going to try to get myself one of those newfangled high-deductible health insurance plans that qualify for tax-free health savings accounts. That’ll allow me to bring in another couple of thousand dollars, tax-free. I’m no brave pioneer living off the land or squatting in an abandoned building — I rent a room in a flat and do my hunting and gathering at neighborhood markets.

Iraq: Denial and Deception

Matthew Yglesias points out that the White House press office’s transcript of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s U.N. Security Council testimony about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction “has the text running under a banner reading ‘Iraq: Denial and Deception.’ A refreshing dose of candor in an unintended kind of way.”

This was the testimony in which Powell set out the evidence the Bush administration had for Iraq’s continuing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons threat, and is famous for statements like: “Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets. Even the low end of 100 tons of agent would enable Saddam Hussein to cause mass casualties across more than 100 square miles of territory, an area nearly 5 times the size of Manhattan. Let me remind you that, of the 122 millimeter chemical warheads, that the U.N. inspectors found recently, this discovery could very well be, as has been noted, the tip of the submerged iceberg. The question before us, all my friends, is when will we see the rest of the submerged iceberg?”

And the answer, all my friends, is “when pigs fly.”

CBS MarketWatch asks: How’s this for a way to do good for yourself and others: make regular donations to a charity for a set period of time, get a huge tax deduction, then get all of your money back and then some? Do some fancy tax planning and you could even earn a lot more on the money you gave away than you actually gave away.

Apparently they’re not talking about a sneaky way to cheat on your taxes, but about something called Charitable Lead Trusts that are completely above-board. Naturally, a tax dodge this good is mostly for the fairly wealthy, but if that’s your bracket this might be your racket.