NH business leaders call for sensible budget priorities

Campaigns challenge Administration’s plans to increase Pentagon funding

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Survey shows strong political support for new budget priorities

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CONCORD –A group of New Hampshire business people have joined a national business leaders organization in calling on President Bush and Congress to create a fiscal year 2008 budget that will boost funding for education and health care, increase support for deficit reduction and energy independence, and promote a sustainable global economy – all without any tax increase.

They are promoting the recommendations of Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities(BLSP) and PrioritiesNH to reduce funding for pork-barrel weapons projects and excessive nuclear warheads and transfer the savings to top-priority programs that fulfill Americans' varied security needs.

President Bush will announce the details of his proposed budget Monday (Feb. 5).

“Spending on weapons rose nearly 20% in the fourth quarter of last year, and President Bush is again calling for large increases in the 2008 Pentagon budget. It’s time to provide a strong foundation for growth for the American people – not just for defense contractors. Our government needs to formulate a different business plan for America, one that’s based on sensible budget priorities,”Business Leaders’ President Ben Cohen said today. Cohen is a co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

Caroline Bogart of Bogart Computing in Litchfield called the Pentagon budget “the world's largest entitlement program,” adding, “It's time to get the Pentagon off of welfare.”

“The Pentagon spends $60 billion per year on weapons that will not find bin Laden, will not protect soldiers, and will not make America safer. That money isn't being spent on our protection. The Pentagon will not prevent terrorism with thousands of nuclear missiles. The spending has nothing to do with our national defense,” shesaid.

Katie Delahaye Paine, CEO of KDPaine & Partners in Durham , said "the lack of accountability in the Dept. of Defense budget is reason not to increase it. “As someone who measures results for a living – and who has pitched measurement and accountability to the military and been turned down numerous times, I feel strongly that the Defense Department doesn’t know what it owns, where its inventory is, or how its annual allowance is being spent.”

Richard Smith, owner of Cuzin Richard EntertainmentAssociates in Portsmouth said “I have a vested interest in our future with a daughter and hopefully grandchildren to follow. What is to question? We need to pay more attention and monetary support to our environment, healthcare, and education, for the health and well-being of our planet and ourselves instead of investing money and ideas on ways to harm it. 

Beth Caldwell of RGBC Associates in Keene said,“President Bush is proposing to spend over $10 billion to maintain 10,000 nuclear weapons, when 1,000 nuclear bombs are more than enough to maintain deterrence. This makes no sense to me as a business owner, as a taxpayer, as a mom, and as a citizen of an increasingly violent world.”

The NH business people are among the 50-plus business supporters of PrioritiesNH, which is based in Concord. PrioritiesNH is a BLSP project with 6,000 members.

Korb's reportis available on the PrioritiesNH Web site at www.PrioritiesNH.org , asis a recent University of Chicago survey whichfound that the majority of Americans want more federal funding for education,health care, and the environment – and less on the military.

The two organizations’recommendations challenge the Administration and Congress to appropriatesufficient federal funds to:

        Provide health insurance to all uninsured children across the United States.

        Retrain unemployed American workers to meet the needs of the global economy.

       Renovate and upgrade crumbling public schools around the country.

       Help poor nations by doubling the federal budget for humanitarian foreign aid.

“American businesses are committed to supporting the critical programs that fund America’s readiness and strengthen our domestic and global stability and competitiveness. Our federal tax dollars must be committed based on cost effectiveness and value-added – not political payoffs. This is the only way we can be successful in tackling the issues that affect American businesses and our stakeholders, the American people, who are our employees, shareholders and customers,” said Business Leaders Board Chairman Warren Langley.