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Carl Moos: Defense spending takes a far bigger bite of Northampton taxation

To the editor:

No one likes to pay more taxes, but to maintain our city’s school system and other essential services we all enjoy, we must support the tax override. But as we do so, let’s keep in mind a major reason why this override is necessary, namely the steady shrinkage of local aid from state and federal sources. And one of the main reasons for those cuts is the huge U.S. defense budget which consumes more than half of all discretionary spending.

Consider these numbers (from the Northampton-based National Priorities Project): Since 2001, taxpayers in the city of Northampton have paid a total of $153 million just for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not including the rest of the Department of Defense budget. Under the defense budget for fiscal 2014, Northampton residents will pay $8.53 million just for the Afghanistan war, which is more than three times the $2.5 million which would be raised by the proposed override. In other words, if we Northampton taxpayers didn’t have to pay to continue the Afghanistan war through 2014, the money saved could cover the override more than three times over.

As we grit our teeth and vote “yes” for the override on June 25, let’s redouble our efforts to bring U.S. military forces home from Afghanistan sooner and redirect those dollars to domestic needs including aid to struggling cities like ours.

Carl Moos

Northampton

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