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ANGRY US MAYORS: “That we would build bridges in Baghdad & Kandahar & not Baltimore & Kansas City boggles the mind!”

The following email came from NY Green Party’s Howie Hawkins:

Green Alert: Tell Congress to Vote No on Military Budget

The US conference of Mayors is expected to pass a resolution today calling on Congress to cut $127 billion from the Defense Budget by ending the wars in the Middle East and redirecting the funding towards Domestic Needs.

Unfortunately, Congress is headed in the other direction. The Obama administration has proposed the largest defense budget ever, over $700 billion, as much as the rest of the world combined and double the military budget of a decade ago.

Congress, especially in the House, have voted to slash anti-hunger programs such as WIC and food stamps and many other low-income programs in order to continue to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and unsustainable and unneeded military spending.

Message to Congress: Please vote no on the Defense Appropriations bill and redirect military spending to rebuilding America, creating jobs, and strengthening hunger, housing, education and other human service programs.

Congressional switchboard 877-762-8762 or 202-224-3121

U.S. Mayors Conference Calls For End To Afghanistan, Iraq Wars, Refocus On Domestic Initiatives

BALTIMORE - Money spent on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should be spent at home under a resolution proposed Friday by U.S. mayors who called on Congress to hasten the end of the wars.

The resolution proposed at the opening of the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting wants Congress to redirect the military spending to domestic priorities. The resolution says $126 billion is being spent each year on the wars that should be spent at home to create jobs, rebuild infrastructure, develop sustainable energy and provide for other needs.

The conference, which ends Monday, represents mayors of the more than 1,200 cities nationwide with a population of more than 30,000.

When asked to respond to those who argue military efforts overseas have made American cities safer from foreign terrorists, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pointed to the cost of the wars.

"How did we get to a deficit and a debt larger than at any time not only in U.S. history but in human history? We got involved in two wars that, no matter what you think about those wars, we haven't paid for," Villaraigosa said.
"That we would build bridges in Baghdad and Kandahar and not Baltimore and Kansas City, absolutely boggles the mind."

Many of the mayors speaking at a news conference opening the four-day event also criticized federal cuts that they say have increased the burden on local governments, cuts Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter called the "Great Retreat by the federal government."

Burnsville, Minn., Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said safety at home should be the top priority.

"And along with that it is about our economy and it is about getting people back to work, and it is about reinvesting in those efforts that will help us retain jobs and create jobs in our country," Kautz said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told the mayors during a luncheon address that their gathering comes at a critical moment and "investing in America's cities is the answer to our economic crisis."

The Democrat also criticized Republicans in the ongoing debate over the budget.

"We do not agree with the Republican plan that ends Medicare while giving away tax breaks to Big Oil; slashes support for seniors in nursing homes while giving away tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas; cuts education for children and raises the cost of college while giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans," Pelosi said.
Those moves add $1 trillion to the deficit and repeals health reform, which Pelosi said recognizes health care "as a right for all Americans, not just the privileged few."


Mayors See End to Wars as Fix for Struggling Cities

NY TimesPublished: June 17, 2011

BALTIMORE - While states are seeing their tax collections begin to rise again, much to the relief of budget-battered officials, the nation's cities are having a far rougher time, with many losing state and federal aid just as the burst housing bubble is belatedly driving down property taxes.

Providence and Hollywood, Fla., issued layoff notices to police officers this month that will cut jobs in the coming weeks unless the cities get more union concessions. Lansing, Mich., and New York are threatening to close fire stations. Teachers are getting pink slips in Philadelphia, and schools in Montgomery, Ala., are being closed.

Libraries are open less. And potholes are staying unfilled longer in cities like Minneapolis. Local governments shed 28,000 jobs last month, the Department of Labor reported, and have lost 446,000 jobs since employment peaked in September 2008.

So when downturn-weary mayors from around the country gathered here on Friday for the annual meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors, they decided to make a statement: they introduced a resolution calling for the speedy end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and calling on Congress to use the $126 billion a year the wars cost for urgent domestic needs.

The resolution, which will be decided Monday, seems likely to pass. "There are so many better uses for the money," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore. Mayor R. T. Rybak of Minneapolis lamented that cities across the nation were being forced to make "deeply painful cuts to the most core services while the defense budget continued to escape scrutiny." And Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles said that the idea "that we would build bridges in Baghdad and Kandahar and not Baltimore and Kansas City absolutely boggles the mind."

The rare foray of mayors into foreign policy - 40 years after the conference approved a resolution calling for an end to the Vietnam War - reflects not just the nation's increasing war weariness but a growing concern about the expense as Washington seems intent on cutting domestic spending even as many localities are struggling.

Many cities are hurting. They are losing federal aid, and at least 18 states are cutting aid to local governments. Ohio is planning some of the deepest cuts to local aid; Mayor Michael B. Coleman of Columbus said, "The state cut is a punch in the gut, and in the jaw, and for some cities, it's going to knock them out."

[cross-posted at correntewire]