Even as Congress urges aid to Wall Street, there are many running for office around the country today pledging to cut federal budgets on things like social spending, public services, and aid to financially strapped communities.

John McCain in the first presidential debate came on strong as a spending cutter. He’s for the bail out — but he pledged that if elected he’d freeze all other government spending  — all of it — except for spending on war and care for vets.

But you can’t hurt communities and help Vets at the same time. The fact is, more than 200,000 veterans are homeless today — they’re not just affected by what goes on in Main Street America, they may be living  right there. And a disproportionate number of our service men and women come from rural America – some of the most economically stressed places in the country. They joined the military, many of them, because of the absence of other opportunities in their home towns.

Military families are poor families. Of a total of 700,000 spouses across all services, the Defense Department reports that about half are married to enlisted persons making less than $20,000 a year.

Thousands of military families rely on food stamps to get through the month. That’s right: the families of our troops need food stamps to feed themselves. Writes one Vietnam veteran on the website, The Olympian: “Without food stamps, many military families would not survive.”  

If deficit spending’s ok to help failed bankers or finance a war of choice — don’t tell us we have to shrink budgets where Main Street America is concerned. That’s where military families live. Better yet, you want to help military families? Bring the troops home.

The $10 billion we’re spending now on the Occupation — Just think what it could do.

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders, author, and host of RadioNation on Air America Radio, has built a reputation for courageous investigative journalism coupled with compassion and a sense of humor. In writing her last book, Blue Grit, she traveled the country reporting on grassroots success stories and broadcast live to over 150 radio stations from community centers in places including Helena, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Miami, Las Vegas, and Milwaukee. In her television appearances (Lou Dobbs, Larry King Live,) on radio and in her many books (including Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species) and articles (The Nation and others,) Flanders calls for a new politics of fairness, equality and citizen action. Articulating the human dimension of American communities in trouble, her programs have become destinations for those seeking the skills and the will to make a difference. Flanders is a regular contributor to the Nation Magazine and CNN. Before joining Air America, where she was part of the original lineup, and hosted “The Laura Flanders Show” for three years, Flanders was the founding host of the award-winning “Your Call” weekday mornings on public radio, KALW in the Bay Area and CounterSpin, the radio show of the mediawatch group, FAIR.