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On Tax Day, Protesters Demand Shift in National Priorities

Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA News

As people trickled in and out of the U.S. Post Office in Squirrel Hill to mail in their taxes Monday, a small group of protesters stood outside to speak out against how the federal government spends tax dollars.

In particular, they said too much is spent on the military.

“We feel that by reducing the military budget, we could afford to put more money into healthcare, housing, mass transit, infrastructure, all those things,” said Eva Havlicsek, a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

A banner at the protest stated that 60 percent of the U.S. budget is slated for the military, citing President Obama’s 2013 federal discretionary budget sent to Congress in February 2012.

This is at odds with other information sources, including a breakdown from the White House which has national defense spending at 24.64 percent of the budget. A leaflet from the WILPF calls the government’s numbers misleading.

“The United States spends five times as much as China on the military and we feel there is really no reason for that,” said WILPF Pittsburgh Coordinator Edith Beill.

Havlicsek said she believes tax dollars would be better spent on healthcare, housing, food, education, infrastructure and mass transit.

“The things that lead to good quality of life for all of our citizens is what we’re missing in our country because we put our priorities into being the policemen of the world,” she said.

Groups such as WILFP are holding similar protests throughout the country on Tax Day and have done so every year for at least a decade.

“This is the day people are paying their taxes and are very much aware of the portion of their own income they are giving away,” Havlicsek said. “We want them to be aware of how our government is using those taxes.”

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