Saturday, January 7, 2012

Defense Spending Cuts? Don't Believe All the Hype!

To hear and see the squallering Repukes you'd think the Obama administration had unilaterally disarmed the country leaving it to the nefarious aims of the Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians ....or whoever the evil empire of the moment might be. But not so fast! Those $487 b in proposed defense cuts over a decade are actually a drop in the bucket. They don't so much cut defense spending in real terms as the growth in defense spending.

As Bill Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy put it in a recent interview:

"that’s against what the Pentagon would like to spend, not against what they’re spending now; and they had quite ambitious plans for increases. As President Obama pointed out, this new plan would basically slow the rate of increase."

He went on to say that given we're at the highest rate of military spending since World War II (and with no extra taxes to pay for it, like we had during World War Two) there shouldn't be such an outcry from the Congress - mainly Republicans like the clowns on display as "candidates" for the GOP Presidential nomination.

Take Mitt Romney for instance, arguably the most realistic candidate for the Reep nomination given how most of the others have imploded, with Rick Santorum due up next (after women learn that he vigorously defends prevention of abortion even in the cases of rape or incest). Anyway, as Hartung has observed, Romney has insisted on Pentagon spending equal to 4 percent of gross domestic product as a constant level.

In Hartung's words:

" that would be almost like an entitlement program, where the Pentagon would get a set amount regardless of what’s going on in the world. Four percent of GDP would be about $30 billion a year more than what we’re spending this year, and perhaps an extra $1 trillion or more over the next 10 years"

And of course with no proposed taxes to pay for it, that's exactly what it would amount to, apart from requiring massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare if Romney had his way (which he likely would with an all-Repuke congress). So what's this all about given we've already been at the level of spending 58 cents of every dollar on defense?

Basically, it's about imposing financially dictated austerity on the mass of people! This is the "end around" way the Goopers are using to kill all "entitlements" - in their parlance. Recall once again, the template in play ever since the whacko Right and Minutemen, John Birchers first trotted out their economic "Manifestos" in the early 1960s (and also why most Americans never gave them the time of day or elected office).

For example, James Hepburn's 'Farewell America' noted the primary extremist right wing groups in Texas ca. 1963 included: The American Political Forum, The Ku Klux Klan, The John Birch Society, The Dallas Committee for Full Citizenship, The Texas White Citizens’ Council, The National States Rights Party and The Dallas White Citizens’ Council.

Among the economic planks-precepts all of these had in common at the time of JFK’s assassination:

- Abolition or severe reduction of income taxes, to starve government and ultimately undermine all public spending in favor of ‘privatization’.

- Increased military-defense spending at the same time to effect a "double whammy"

- Fierce opposition to the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty- particularly its clause limiting anti-missile systems.

- Elimination of both Social Security and Medicare, regarded as “socialist intrusions” into a capitalist nation (“All services to the public should be abolished in favor of personal enterprise”- H.L. Hunt, ,p. 248)

As Hepburn noted in his 1968 book, the extreme Rightists all knew that the last depended mainly on the first two. Somehow, if they could ever get into office and convince people to vote consistently against higher taxes (or more specifically FOR candidates that opposed higher taxes) and also higher miltary spending they'd be "in like Flynn". The people themselves, the voters, would then lay the groundwork for their own demise via the evisceration of all their social insurance and services.

Well, this is exactly what' s happened, especially since the Bushies got in by stealing the election of 2000 via the ruse of putting 3 out of 10 black voters in Florida on Choicepoint 'Felon's lists' (making them ineligible to vote). For more on this see Chapter 1 of Greg Palast's book: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. (The book is available free as a pdf download.)

Once in office, compliments of their electoral coup d 'etat and the cooperation of a Supreme Court willing to trump voters in Florida, they accelerated those first two early 60's radical Right initiatives. They legislated massive tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 (which by the way are still extant) and to the tune of more than $2.8 trillion when interest is factored in. These tax cuts actually, because they're unpaid for and remain so, will amount to future taxes on future generations of workers - either by having their Social Security cut drastically, or Medicare or both.

Then another plum fell into their laps with the 9-11 debacle which they realized in the aftermath could be exploited to ramp up military and security spending to unheard of levels. In effect, from 2001, Pentagon spending effectively doubled until by 2006, reaching a level that exceeded the next 25 nations combined - including the Russians, Chinese and India. This according to the sobering look at the expanse of the American Empire (up to 2007) as provided in the book: The State of the American Empire, particularly the highlighted maps showing its expanse (pp. 70-71), as well as the total of over 55 U.S. military interventions from 1945-89 (pp. 76-77). Meanwhile, the comparable military spending per person (page 67) boggles the mind into insensibility, and this was published before the Afghan "supplementals" budget was effectively nearly doubled after 2007. (With the percentage of GDP consumed increased from 2.2% to nearly 4.7% by 2004, according to former defense analyst Chuck Spinney).

So, along with the Afghanistan incursion in 2001, then launching into a totally fabricated war of choice against Iraq in 2003, the Bushies and radical Right repukes had their "two fer". They had the back door mechanism to drain the Treasury and force back door cuts to "entitlements" and social services spending (including for Medicaid, as well as unemployment benefits) if they just held strain and refused to raise taxes. The last was critical because if taxes were ever allowed to go up, say even by expiring the Bush tax cuts, it meant revenue would pour in and the deficits arguments would be scuttled along with the chance to rip away "entitlements".

Thus, it isn't mystifying at all that the Repuke nutso crowd would yelp and scream as much against cutting even the growth of the bloated Pentagon budget as they would finally sunsetting the Bush tax cuts. Why shouldn't they yelp? Given it's understood from their ideology that this combo is the best way to starve government coffers enough to later play the "deficits" card and demand an axe to entitlements. Fuck, some things never change - even in nearly 50 years!

What has changed, which is most distressing, is the American voters' willingness now to give these freaks a serious hearing and even votes- when back in the time - these clowns and their candidates were all relegated to the electoral margins. Hell, even Barry Goldwater himself was clobbered in the 1964 elections, and this was the guy who famously pronounced: "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice".

Why has the American voter changed? Why is he or she so much more inclined to allow the terrible combo of higher military spending and tax cuts when basic math would indicate the pairing is a disaster waiting to happen? Maybe because all these voters are fundamentally innumerate. Or maybe because the PR tanks of the Radical Right, including FAUX news, are so adept at spreading and seeding false consciousness that a new voter zombot is created every minute.

Let us hope that enough thinking voters, as opposed to zombots, emerge in the elections in November, or we will all be for the high jump!

No comments: