During the Grand Bargain mess in the summer of 2011, Joe Lieberman let the cat out of the bag about one of the real reasons why the 1% has declared that there will be cuts to social programs. He didn't go on about deficits and debt, or saving Social Security for future generations. This was a senator who knew he was going to retire, a man who was perhaps tired of all the political games that day, and he put it in plain terms.
"Bottom line, we can't protect these entitlements and also have the national defense we need to protect us in a dangerous world while we're at war against the Islamist extremists who attacked us on 9/11 and will be for a long time to come."
-- Joe Lieberman. August, 2011.
Imperialism is very expensive
The baby boom generation has begun to retire, so those surplus funds that have been flowing into the general fund and replaced with IOU treasury bonds? That situation will be over soon unless there is some drastic change in our population and jobs situation.
We've also still got a big problem with our big banks.
This reasoning can't be put out into the public debate though, therefore the manufactured crisis. It has to be packaged in several different ways to mask the real situation.
If you want to understand more about this manufactured crisis and the masking of the real situation, consider what Michael Hudson puts forth in the interview below.
Obama's "Cat Food" Social Security ReformThe sequester included $500 billion in cuts to the defense budget. Pres. Obama's new budget, while having an overall, long term reduction in the defense budget over ten years, does away with those sequester cuts, leaving only $100 billion in cuts. So he puts back $400 billion into the defense budget and at the same time includes cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and many other government programs affected by chained CPI, most of those programs for the poorest and neediest members of our society -- those who are struggling the most.
Michael Hudson: Obama's "bargain" on social security reform will push more retirees into poverty in exchange for a minor increase in high end income tax - a class that receives most revenue from capital gains
Partial Transcript:"It's sort of like The Hound of the Baskervilles, where Sherlock Holmes said the important thing is that the dogs didn't bark. When the government printed $13 trillion to give to the banks after the 2008 breakdown, nobody complained at all about the fact that the government can simply print the money, pour it into the economy, and do something. Nobody's complaining about the increased war spending that we're doing.
Why is it that all these complaints are only focused on one particular small part of the budget, Social Security and medical care and health care? And the reason is this is pure, naked class war. There's no other word for it. You can't believe that people are being honest when they don't talk about the whole budget or the overall economy when they're singlemindedly tunnel-visioned, focused only on how do we pay retirees less, so that we can give the bankers more when President Obama continues the bank deregulation he's doing. You have the idea that they're cutting back pensioners, cutting back Social Security, in order to be able for the next big bank bailout."
[...] to pretend that the debts to the banks and the bondholders are the whole thing just avoids looking at the overall budget situation and it also assumes that okay we're going to be paying the rich... we know that the bond holders,the 1% own maybe 75% of all the bonds. So if the government pays them a lot more interest, and doesn't tax them, then this is a pure giveaway to the 1%. So what they're really saying, the New York Times and the others, we're running a probability of giving a huge amount of money to the wealthiest 1% in the future. In order to pay them, in case we have to pay them more, we really have to screw the Social Security recipients, screw the Medicare recipients, screw Medicaid, we have to squeeze the 99% more to pay higher interest to the 1% that are the bondholders.
Inflation Indexation in Major Federal Benefit Programs:Obama's budget whacks veteran's benefits in the process but I'm sure the fatcat contractors and war profiteers and mercenaries will be just fine.
Impact of the Chained CPI (PDF)
For example, payments to certain Medicare providers and Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments are indexed to price inflation. Eligibility
for many federal benefits programs, such as SSI, Medicaid, and federal school
breakfast and lunch programs, are linked to the federal poverty guidelines, which
in turn are indexed to price inflation.3
Undoing the sequester cuts to the Pentagon budget:
President Obama is expected to take measures to scrap this controversial legislation, reducing the automatic cuts to defense spending over the next decade to $100 billion, down from $500 billion. It is expected that he would achieve this in part by increasing tax on the country’s top earners.All of this must also be considered in the context of the fact that the Pentagon budget has doubled since George W. Bush took office.
Well, okay, if Joe Lieberman wants to talk about bottom lines, let's talk about bottom lines. The 99% has an entirely different idea of what the bottom line is, as shown by recent polls that say that Americans choose cuts to defense spending over cuts to the safety net.
There are many polls that show that an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose cuts to our already too weak social programs. This is a sentiment that spans the whole political spectrum. It's not just Democrats. It's all Americans. And in February, this poll showed that given a choice, Americans prefer to cut our bloated Pentagon budget rather than whack away at social programs.
But the public also feel strongly that the budget should be balanced on the back of reductions to defense spending rather than through cuts to programs such as Social Security and Medicare.But this is what we got.
Forty-nine percent of respondents said they would support cutting military spending, while just 23 percent said they would support slashing Social Security and Medicare. An overwhelming majority, 69 percent, said they would oppose cuts to social programs.
Read more: http://thehill.com/...
Line Item Warfare
If big military cuts are coming, they haven’t arrived yet.
Even before the sequestration took hold, the word in national-security circles was that great change lay ahead for the Pentagon. The end of the Iraq war, the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan, the “pivot” to Asia, and the overwhelming fiscal pressures—all foretold drastic cuts and dramatic restructurings in the defense budget.
In fact, the Fiscal Year 2014 defense budget doesn’t look much different from the Fiscal Year 2013 budget. It’s only about 1 percent smaller and in substance is holding steady. Not much change here.
First, though, let’s look at how big the military budget really is. The White House and Pentagon announced today that it amounts to $526.6 billion. However, this leaves out an estimated $88 billion for overseas military operations (mainly in Afghanistan), $17 billion for nuclear-weapons programs in the Department of Energy, and $7 billion for defense-related programs in other federal agencies—for an actual total of about $638 billion. That is about the same as last year, or what last year’s would have been without sequestration.
Of course this is about more than just bureaucratic politics. The world is changing, fiscal pressures are tightening, the security requirements are different from what they were a decade or two ago, yet much of the Defense Department is cruising along as if everything were the same. This is the real budget crisis, and no one is confronting it.
Obama’s 2014 Military Spending RequestJust an item of interest: Back in 2000, the infamous "Rebuilding America's Defenses" white paper was produced by the neocon think tank, PNAC. They expressed concerns that "entitlement" spending would get in the way of their goals for enormous increases in war and defense spending. In that white paper they set a % GDP goal. So it seems to me that neocons like Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney must be pleased because they have exceeded their goals.
The Obama administration $640.5 billion fiscal year 2014 request for military spending authority is predictably unrealistic and excessive. Still, political circumstance continues to drag the Pentagon toward fiscal restraint.
That $640.5 billion includes $88.5 billion for war (a.k.a. overseas contingency operations), $526.6 for non-war spending in the Department of Defense, and another $25.4 billion spending outside DoD, mostly for nuclear weapons in the Department of Energy, which officially counts as “national defense” or budget function 050 spending.
In a certain light, there is some sacrifice here. The non-war DoD request of $526.6 billion is just $1.2 billion more than last year’s request. Factoring in inflation, it’s about a 1.5 percent cut. This budget would bring the portion of GDP going to the military to 4 percent, versus. 4.3 percent this year, according to the administration. And as Russell Rumbaugh points out, DoD’s projected spending over ten years is down $114 billion from a year ago.
On the other hand, the request would be a substantial increase over the $493 billion that the Pentagon actually got from Congress this year, after sequestration (see page 10 here). Economic growth is the main reason that a declining portion of national wealth is going to the military. And the cuts scheduled over the decade would arrive mostly in its second half, when someone else is president, meaning that the cuts are basically imaginary.
INCREASE DEFENSE SPENDING gradually to a minimum level of 3.5 to 3.8 percent of gross domestic product, adding $15 billion to $20 billion to total defense spending annually. (v)
DailyKos Blogathon -- Week of April 8th
(All times are Eastern, diaries published by the Pushing back at the Grand Bargain group)
Monday, April 8
10:00 a.m. Roger Fox
12:00 noon eXtina
2:00 p.m. Guest crosspost by Yves Smith
4:00 p.m. Horace Boothroyd III
6:00 p.m. slinkerwink
8:00 p.m. joedemocrat
Tuesday, April 9
Wednesday, April 10
Thursday, April 11
Friday April 12
1. Call your senators and representatives and tell them "Hell No!" with a priority on contacting senators. U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. You can find email contact information here
2. Contact the White House and tell them "Hell No!". Switchboard: 202-456-1414. Email contact page is here.
3. Petitions. There are a number of petitions available. Choose from the following or preferably sign them all.
a. White House petition calling for no cuts to Social Security.
4. Social Media. Share this diary and promote this blogathon on Facebook and Google+ using the buttons at the top of the diary. Send this out on Twitter and add the hashtags #HellNo and #NoGrandBargain.
Blogathon diaries you might have missedMonday:
Hell No! #NoGrandBargain: "Pushing back at the Grand Bargain" by Roger Fox
Hell No! Chained CPI will reduce eligability for EITC #noChainedCPI by Roger Fox
Hell No! Dan Pfeiffer: "The President's Budget Shows That He is Serious About Solving Deficits" by eXtina
Guest Crosspost, Yves Smith: Obama Wants to Be the President Who Rolled Back the New Deal by Yves Smith via joanneleon
Hell No! Stop crushing the poor by Horace Boothroyd III
Hell, No! Social Security Contributes Nothing To Deficit by slinkerwink
Hell No! No Grand Bargain: Chained CPI: Social Security Means So Much To So Many by joedemocrat
Hell No! No Grand Bargain Liveblog 2014 Budget press conference by joanneleon