Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dismal Science

Who can understand the bizarre congressional response to the so-called debt ceiling crisis anyway? They build this elaborate model of triggers and super committees and defense spending "reductions" as a pretext for the squawking of hawks, and then wait to see what happens. As the meager social safety net in this country is further shredded to continue massive tax cuts enjoyed by the wealthy.

A path to security it's not.

I live in a conservative, blue collar/lucky to work at all part of the country, but I am hearing from people who hear from people at work: if they cut Social Security, we'll finally start fighting back.

For those of us who agitate for cutting out military spending, it's difficult to keep watch over the right hand while simultaneous watching the left hand shuffle the coconuts rapidly to create confusion. Jean Athey did a good job of making sense of where the bottom line could fall after the show has subsided:
The bill just passed offers two possibilities for potential cuts in military spending...
(1)  Budget caps: This covers FY 2012, which begins in October. The budget caps require that spending not exceed a certain level throughout the government. The budget cap for military spending is contained within the so-called “security” category consisting of the Pentagon, State Department, Homeland Security, and the discretionary part of Veterans Affairs. For FY 2012, the budget cap for “security” spending is a grand total of $5 billion below the 2011 level; analysts have suggested that total “security” spending exceeds $1 trillion. If it is $1 trillion, we are talking about cutting one half of one percent of our “security” spending.  

You can safely bet that the Republican-dominated House and the weak-kneed Democrats in the Senate will ensure that the miniscule $5 billion reduction in “security” spending does not come from the Pentagon, but from our Veterans, from our already hobbled and much-needed diplomatic resources, and from foreign aid. In short, the budget cap will not lead to reductions in bloated military spending... (2) Automatic spending cuts:  If the new Joint Committee fails to reach agreement, the bill calls for automatic 15% across-the-board cuts in discretionary spending, including Pentagon spending. The White House claims that, under this scenario, Pentagon spending could be reduced by as much as $500 billion over a decade. The catch here is that the 15% spending “cuts” for the Pentagon are computed by looking at planned spending (from the Administration’s February 2011 budget submission), not current spending...I don’t know about you, but in my family budget, I define a spending cut as “less than what I spent last year,” not “less than what I was hoping to spend next year.”  But in the Alice-in-Wonderland logic of this bill, money going to the Pentagon could actually increase but be called a “cut” if the increase was less than Obama proposed in his 2011 planning document.

The maximum real cut to Pentagon spending even remotely possible under the bill is less than 1%.
Bring Our War $$ Home is needed now more than ever. Our economy appears to be staggering, and cutting social spending while it does so is reckless. Is capitalism committing suicide? Stay tuned.

Join us in talking to your neighbors about the need for war dollars to come home, and get to work. Do whatever you can do: show a film, hold a discussion, get out in the streets.

Or write a great op-ed like Codepinker Elizabeth Barger, who under the headline CYNICAL DEBT CRISIS RAISES TAXES ON MIDDLE CLASS AND WORKING POOR wrote: "I wonder what it will take for us to get organized?"
source: Changing Winds blog

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