On Friday, it was announced that the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to support a $649 billion defense spending bill. According to the Associated Press, this represents a $17 billion increase over last year’s appropriation. This, as the AP article points out, is particularly noteworthy, given that drastic government cuts are being demanded elsewhere. The following clip comes from the article:
…On a 336-87 vote Friday, the Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly backed a $649 billion defense spending bill that boosts the Defense Department budget by $17 billion. The strong bipartisan embrace of the measure came as White House and congressional negotiators face an Aug. 2 deadline on agreeing to trillions of dollars in federal spending cuts and raising the borrowing limit so the U.S. does not default on debt payments…
By way of background, it’s probably worth noting that, we already spend far more than the next dozen countries combined when it comes to military expenditures. The following clip comes by way of Politicus USA:
…There is never any doubt that America needs and depends on a strong military to protect the nation’s interests around the world and defend the country from foreign aggression. Indeed, as of 2009, America spent more on defense than the next 16 countries combined, and that is 6 times the next biggest spender (China) and ten times the second biggest (Russia). With our involvement in two unnecessary wars, it is expected that America’s defense budget is larger than any peaceful nation’s, but this country’s propensity for imperialism and warmongering has kept defense spending at record levels for decades; even during the fleeting peaceful periods.
As Republicans decimate program after program with claims that America is broke and cannot afford to assist the unemployed, children and seniors, and struggling middle-class families, they always find plenty of funds to feed the military-industrial complex under the guise of supporting the troops and keeping America safe…
It’s also worth noting, before we move on, that several in the military, as well as the members of the President’s non-partisan Deficit Commission believe that the defense budget should be cut. Not only that, but some high-level military leaders are convinced that we’re putting our national security at risk by cutting education, healthcare and environmental protection.
Speaking of those Draconian cuts to all things non-military, our nation’s leaders are said to be meeting this evening, discussing the proper ratio of spending cuts to tax increases. At last report, they were talking about $4 trillion in spending cuts, with only modest increases in taxes… The following comes from the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein.
…The Obama administration has agreed to a debt-ceiling deal that’s 83% spending cuts and 17% tax increases — mere inches away from the magic 83:15 ratio that the Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee asked for back in March.
The Obama administration has functionally agreed to redefine a “grand bargain” as a deal that trades lots of spending cuts and some entitlement reforms for a small number of tax increases. And as the taxes go up, so will the ambition of the entitlement reforms. In today’s New York Times, Robert Pear reports that the “Obama administration officials are offering to cut tens of billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid in negotiations to reduce the federal budget deficit, but the depth of the cuts depends on whether Republicans are willing to accept any increases in tax revenues”..
So, now that the President has come to the table with an 83%-17% compromise, which didn’t really call for any new taxes at all, but just the closing of existing loopholes in the tax code, the Republicans are saying that it’s not enough. They’re saying that last week’s unemployment numbers demand that we not raise any taxes on the wealthy, period, irregardless of the evidence showing that lowering taxes doesn’t lead to the creation of jobs. (If it did, we’d have been swimming in new job since the passage of the Bush tax cuts several years ago.)
Here, with more on the deficit ceiling talks, is a clip from the Huffington Post:
…Hours before a major White House meeting over the debt ceiling negotiations, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Sunday a grand bargain over the deficit may be dead, with Republicans unwilling to accept revenue-raising measures in exchange for major spending cuts and entitlement reforms.
“We have 9.2 percent unemployment, and their response is to raise taxes? I mean, my goodness,” McConnell told “Fox News Sunday.” “I’m for the biggest deal possible too, but we’re not going to raise taxes.”
Talks over a deal to raise the debt ceiling are stalled, after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced on Saturday he would not accept a major package of cuts if it included revenue-raisers. With the Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling rapidly approaching, Boehner has said Republicans and Democrats are still far from reaching a deal.
“I think it is [off the table], because everything they’ve told me and the speaker is that to get a big package would require big tax increases in the middle of an economic situation that’s extraordinarily difficult, with 9.2 percent unemployment,” McConnell said. “We think it’s a terrible idea. It’s a job killer.”
Republicans had previously pushed for major spending cuts, including to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, as part of a debt-reduction deal. But with reports that Obama wants a “grand bargain” deal that combines these cuts with roughly $100 billion worth of tax increases per year over ten years, Republicans are backing off, reaffirming they will not agree to tax increases even if they receive major concessions in the form of spending cuts and entitlement reforms. Now, Republicans are pushing for a deal that includes the $2.4 trillion in cuts from the Biden talks before they fell apart last month…
I’d like to go on, and continue to rant about the weak Democratic leadership in Washington, and their apparent inability to make the case to the American people that all of these problems stem from the fact that 1% of Americans have decided to stop contributing toward the long-term stability of our nation, but I’m tired of just saying the same things on this site night after night. I think that the time for ranting is quickly coming to an end. As much as I hate to acknowledge it, I think it’s coming time for me to get my fat ass off the couch and actually do something. Unfortunately, though, I don’t know what that something is. Here, while I consider the possibility of riding off into the night, ringing my bells like Paul Revere, is a poignant quote from Bill Maher:
“If you can look at a crime where everything points to one answer and not see it, you’re a dumbass. And if you can look at the deficit and not see that the problem is that the rich stopped paying taxes, you’re a Republican.”