Friday, December 28, 2012

Corker's Correct on ONE Thing: Left & Right Underestimate Cost of Government

I will be upfront and honest that, as a Socialist, I don't have much truck for any Republican of the modern -day extreme Right breed. They are all nutso, and - apologies to the Demo blogs & media (who compare those of us on the unrepentant, vocal Left to 'Teabaggers' using the pejorative 'Firedog-baggers') you've got your analogies all screwed up.  For those not in the know, 'Firedoglake' is a hard Democratic Left blog that argues for Democratically elected reps to grow a spine for once, and support what the voters indicated they wanted on Nov. 6. Meanwhile, what I call the 'wussie' -Corporate Democrats, say "Oh no! We must not do that- we must COMPROMISE! We must display bipartisanship" 

Yes, in the long held tradition of Grover Norquist, who used the term "date rape" for reaching bipartisanship with Dems. By the looks of some Dem Corporate blogs, a lot of them must love being "date raped" by the likes of Norquist and his Republican followers.

Anyway, I digress a bit. Bob Corker (R-TN) was on CBS this morning and went on a longish rant (which they had to cut short) on the upcoming "fiscal cliff" and the need for Americans to prepare. I tuned out most of his jabber but he did hit one note correct: Both the Left and the Right in this country underestimate the full cost of government. (Though, truthfully, I will say a LOT of this is because of politicos, presidents not being honest with them! For example, Bush Jr. telling Americans to go out shopping after 9/11 and then starting two lengthy occupations and not asking them to sacrifice by paying higher taxes for them.)

Anyway, Corker noted that even with people like me on Medicare, 40% of the total benefits which accrue to us -  whether in the form of treatments (say like for my prostate cancer) or preventive items like colonoscopies - are unpaid for. This means debt accumulates as a result.

Corker then went off on his high horse using the above to assert there hasn't been enough attention to spending cuts, especially on "entitlements".

Not one elaborating word came that his Right wing bunch, including Teabaggers, are also oblivious to the true cost of their pet projects, namely military -defense spending! This means that Corker regards - or seems to - those costs as 'freebies' that the rest of us must pay, but he's deluded. This has never been done before and as my late dad used to point out to me, during WWII sacrifices not only had to be made on the home front with rationing but higher taxes too.

Flash forward to the year 2012 and what do we see? The United States currently maintains 702 military 'installations' in 63 foreign countries (it has 4,471 bases altogether), according to the Defense Department's annual budget statement. These figures don't include bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. The total cost for all this support, including what has been consumed in Iraq and Afghanistan is upward of $4.5 trillion.  This dwarfs what's been taken in from Social Security payroll taxes over the past eleven or so years (about $1.8 trillion) but no mention is made that most of that money taken in by S.S. has been used to support those "wars" and defense.

Note here, as I said before - a number of times - Social Security is prohibited by law from adding to any deficit. More to the point, Social Security itself can't go "bankrupt" because it has no external creditors who can impose "collections". Other domains of government, however, DO have monetary obligations to Social Security -  on account of using that money, which now must be paid back. (Oh yes, it must - and don't let anyone tell you any different. It is the total of these paybacks that the Neolib press has referred to as "unfunded liabilities")

So what the hell is Corker yelping about?  Well, mainly that the Left doesn't understand how much it's getting for "free"- especially in terms of Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps etc. but again, no word on the Right not understanding: a) how much military stuff and "wars" they've gotten for free (including Iraq and Afghanistan, neither paid for by higher taxes), and b) how much they've raided from the top "entitlement" they hate - Social security - and have had a major boner to kill since the 1930s.

In this sense, Corker's complaints against "entitlements" can't be taken seriously and come across merely as a convenient smokescreen to gut those social benefits. But truthfully, military spending on all the bases and military installations I noted above, is what really needs cutting! They now consume an ungodly 58 cents of every current federal dollar and this is what's driving us to borrow ever more from China, Japan, etc.

So yes, both Left and Right underestimate the costs of their pet projects - but at least Social security is being paid for via payroll taxes - which btw, ought to be increased after the past two- year "payroll tax holiday" people enjoyed. The reason is that if you're not willing to pay those payroll taxes then you will have to look for congress each year approving a S.S. budget! Do you really want that? I don't!

The bottom line in all this is that Americans, given what they demand -  whether in terms of social insurance benefits or military defense-  are definitely paying way too little in taxes. "Spending cuts", meanwhile, is a Mcguffin created by the likes of nincompoop Repubs and Grover boy, but make no sense for a modern industrial nation that owes its citizens not only the 'promotion of the GENERAL WELFARE" (see the Preamble to the Constitution) but adequate defense in the modern world.

Thus, spending cuts for a nation this large - with over 300 million people, and with social as well as defense standards to meet, is simply a non-starter. I do admit that spending could be cut on nonsense and fat (say like 2,300 F-35s at $0.3b each) , and we should always do what we can to extract the most from each dollar. But to apply sweeping spending cuts, say to "entitlements" the way the pinhead Neolibs and Reepos wish to do, while letting our gargantuan military budget basically sit untouched,  is both foolish and self-serving. Nations that do that usually don't last very long.

It's now time that people, especially our elected officials, use some common sense and understand that any "cliff" solution that is to be meaningful, HAS to have higher taxes and yes ...on BOTH the middle class and upper classes! Middle class people can't continue to be pampered like the politicos are wont to do, say with extending the Bush (now Obama) tax cuts. They need to understand they have 'skin' in the game too, with their future benefits. Do they want those future Medicare benefits? Or would they rather pay $42, 700 for a prostate cancer treatment- like I would have had to do without Medicare?

I believe any right-thinking middle class person will suck it up in terms of higher taxes, and demand his reps vote for them, rather than be faced with draconian cuts or even god-awful Paul Ryan style vouchers down the road.

On that note, it's time we all grow up for once and understand we only get the government we pay for. If we choose to pay only chump change, then get set to live in a third world America!

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