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10 September 2010

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Norbert N, Salamon

I note that the article suggests that DoD budget is unrelated to Vet Affairs, to Homeland Security and to the untold number of spy missions. I would gather that the true cost of Defence is inclusive of all the above, thus representing 65%+ of discretory spending, which amount is probably larger than the income taxes collected by the Feds.

Notwithstanding the hubris based blather asking for more spanding, REALITY will force substantial cuts, whether the Nov elections bring in Reps or Dems in the House or Senate.

While the Federal Reserve could create money out of thin air to finance the USA Deficit, the subsequent rise in % would make the economic reality even worse. Note that there is not enough international balance of payment deficit by the USA to allow foreigners to finace the fed deficit [which was possible in earlier times].

So Reality says cut deficit, or print the money, the latter destroys the economy in short order [Waimar Republic or other such,,], while the former will cause long term decline.

William R. Cumming

PL question? Is the size of the defense establishment a principle function of (a) risk; (b) Congressional intervention; (c) Executive Branch militarism; (d) comprehensive understanding by American people of the defense establishment or absence thereof; (e) the only area of industrial and manufacturing skills in which US still leads the world; (f) or all of the above; or (g) none of the above.

Patrick Lang

WRC

Pretty much all of that. pl

fasteddiez

Norbert, You forgot Nukes (Energy dept.) plus contractors....I have not read the article yet (no PDF reader, or Acrobat on this station).

Norbert N, Salamon

fasteddiez:

Thanks for the correction. I also forgot to mention the effect of corruption in USA power structure due to K-Street and election finance.

Bobo

Either this year, next, five, ten years down the road someone is going to have to go into our government and gut it. Its inevitable.

Defense- no more than 30% of revenue.
Social Security- Retirement to start at seventy years and cut off to those earning more than 150K annually. Contributions increased to 8% for employee and 8% to employer with no caps.
Debt- To be held only by American citizens/entities.
Education/Energy- Fold into other departments.
HHS- will need to increase 1.5% due to alot of above.
Homeland Security- an expensive beauracracy, put all entities back where they were.

Once above is done plus many other items a Balanced Budget is needed that allows 10% of revenue for debt repayment.

Now this is a plan that will eventually have to happen.

Cieran

You forgot Nukes (Energy dept.) plus contractors

The entire NNSA budget is about $10B per year. That's less than we spend on foreign aid (and we don't spend much on foreign aid). NNSA's weapons programs cost about $6B annually, which is approximately equal to the amount of annual U.S. aid to Israel.

Like them or not, nuclear weapons are arguably the most cost-effective military deterrent ever invented by humanity. No wonder so many governments want them...

J

Norbert,

I see you're now factoring into the equation the K Street shaft factor. Taxpayer Citizens and the nation as a whole are being hosed six ways from Sunday.

J

Colonel,

Have you ever done a cursory analysis of just how much the 'unnecessary' MAJCOMs are costing U.S.?

All,

Has anyone figured out where the 'missing Trillions' that Rumsfeld once talked about, went to?

Steve

Since most anyone with a calculator can see that this level of military spending is unsustainable, the question arises: what on earth do the proponents of such spending see as an economic endgame? The US will bankrupt itself if this is allowed to continue.

Are these proponents buying into the US corporate ideology that short-term is all that matters?

What do the deficit hawks--sans military cuts--foresee in say, 2020?

Paul

The defense buget is a good indicator as to the bravery or fright of the American public. Far too many Americans are either afraid of their own shadow or they are too dumb to see that the defense industrial complex is playing them for the fools that they are.

The serving low-level grunts are doing the jobs assigned to them, but the senior staff and their military and civilian sycophants are feeding at the public trough.

When was the last time DoD did anything within schedule and buget? There is always an excuse.

Are they not embarassed for the defeat(s)in the Middle East? How dare they call Social Security and Medicare "entitlements".

Jake

Defense tops the chart at 26.5 cents on every tax dollar collected (http://www.nationalpriorities.org/taxday2010)... Hell we need to pay the military industrial complex and its special interests don't ya know.

There are no ore hero's in Congress. Just ducktalkers. Take for example the mighty John Boehner the Republican Minority Leader. He wants to cut funding for non-security discretionary programs and to extend all of the Bush tax cuts for two years. The Bush tax cuts? They are part of the problem. Non-Defense spending and they say that social security is the third rail eh?

We can settle this with hitting the delete button on the current tax scheme and going to a national flat or sales tax...That would force some very hard changes in the way we as a nation allocate and spend tax dollars...

Of course that will happen the day after the earth gets hit with a extinction level event...


J

Colonel,

The various D.C. think tanks are symptomatic of our nation's politicians sitting on their brains instead of using them. It is far too convenient for them to have some fence post (think tank) doing their decision making for them, instead of earning their politician salaries by having to think (read,study legislation before them) for a living which is what they are getting big buck paid for.

Farmer Don

As long as the US can borrow all the money it needs, in it's own currency, at low interest, nothing much will change.

Secondly, people alsways forget what this wasted money could have produced. This is the real damage of military over spending.
When I was a kid, our family headed South to Yellow Stone park. I can remember riding on the wonderful twisted mountain roads and reading signs which said "Constructed by US Army Engineers".
The Iraq and Afganistan wars will leave nothing of value.

Hank Foresman

Pat

I have been watching this debate unfold and the reaction to Gates decision to close down JFCOM by the Virginia Congressional Delegation is hardly surprising--even the deficit hawk Eric Cantor is hollering not in my back yard do it in someone slse's backyard.

The realization we are going to face is we can no longer the all volunteer military unless we are willing to reduce the size of both the active and reserve components; relook the current retirement scheme for the military; and how to pay for tricare. There are many areas where the defense budget can be reduced to assist in balancing the budget. Of course this will not happen until Congress, both republicans and democrats learn some fiscal and political discipline.

Norbert N, Salamon

Farmer Don:

The trouble is that the USA Government CAN NOT BORROW 1.4 TRILLION from the foreigners when the trade balance is -500 billion, out of which the interest on present Foreign owned T-s have to be paid.
Therefore, Qualitative Easing, aka printing press, which is DOOMED TO MALE THINGS WORSE.

walrus

The battle about the Defence budget is going to be primarily about jobs, not money, at least that is how the GOP will frame it. It is going to be hard to convince people that breaking each others windows, then hiring each other to fix them is a zero sum game.

Norbert N, Salamon

Walrus:

you are probably right, however, extend and pretend [as in mortgages esp for commercial] does not solve the problem. According to the Unified Command halfway through the next presidential term the oil issue will rise its ugly head, causing another recession/depression. If the Reps play the game as you suggest, as opposed to retooling for the need of citizens, it will lead in a couple of years to COLLAPSE [the US $ and the Economy]

Pray that the next bunch of Congress/Senate/Admin peronnel are adults, as opposed to childish dreams of Cheney et al.

Got A Watch

Norbert - I think Farmer Don is talking about the lost opportunity cost of the Defense Budget over time. Money that could have and should have flowed to other more productive things during that time, instead of Defense. But was instead mis-allocated to far too much bloated MIC activity.

Things like infrastructure, high-speed rail lines across America, alternative energy, more basic education for the poor (which will improve their lot over time), a cure for cancer, whatever - there are thousands of ideas that represent better spending choices.

You say there is now no more fiscal room to spend on those concepts, or Defense. True, and I have said that here before, but it is not what Farmer Don is saying.

This is really a double tragedy, as the money spent on defense for endeavors like the Iraq folly was borrowed, and then entirely wasted.

Idiotic politicians are still laboring under the sway of Keynes, as they talk "more stimulus". Yet each stimuli has had progressively less effect, I have read several financial commentators say that now it takes between $5 and $10 of "stimulus funds" to generate $1 of real GDP, and the ratio is expanding.

This all points to a deeper malaise than just too much spending on one issue. The entire structure of the American economy has been shifting from productive to unproductive, in a general sense, for the last 30 years. The deficit spending has been used to support the illusion that the "productive economy" was healthy and expanding.

But it was only a mirage, if you subtract the deficits covered with borrowed funds from national GDP, and how they have grown over time, the present has been borrowing from the future for about 30 years. And the bill has come due now.

If GDP can't be supported by 'Big Government' anymore, it will have to shrink markedly, the process which is underway now. It is amplifying the forces of deflation, as credit and the size of the economy contract in lock step. An unavoidable correction to cleanse systemic imbalances that we call the "Great Recession".

There is no way to re-blow the bubble, and rewind the clock back to 2005, which seems to be the goal of politicians. Even if we could, that was a failed economic dynamic that should not be repeated.

The perils of having a "consumer economy" built on 70-75% "consumer spending", most of it fueled by too easy "credit", are now apparent. Simply cutting the Budget will not solve the issue, though it would be a good first step. A more productive economy is needed, a structural shift.

I am not arguing that Defense is not a valid Budget item, but the proper level of spending on it, in view of the Budget mess in Washington, is far, far less than present unsustainable levels.

trstone

Does the name Seymour Melman mean anything to anyone here?

J

The Source of America's Wars - Kristol Clear
By Maidhc Ó Cathail

Americans feeling let down by Barack Obama’s escalation of the war in Afghanistan should take careful note of those who welcomed yet another “surge.” It might help them to identify the source of their seemingly endless wars.

Top Irving Kristol (father). Bottom left William Kristol (son) middle Robert Kagan and right Charles Krauthammer


For instance, in a recent Washington Post opinion piece, William Kristol described Obama’s West Point speech as “encouraging.” It was “a good thing,” he said, that Obama was finally speaking as “a war president.”
But if the comments on the Post website are anything to go by, few ordinary Americans take Kristol’s armchair warmongering seriously anymore. After all, as one poster quizzically asked, “A column by William Kristol the neocon that was wrong about everything from 2000-2008?”
Although Kristol, like the rest of the neocons, “erred” about Iraq’s WMDs and Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda and 9/11, it would be a fatal error indeed to dismiss him as a fool.
In order to understand what motivates Bill Kristol’s professed hyper-patriotism, with its consistently disastrous prescriptions, it’s worth recalling how his father, Irving Kristol, reacted to Vietnam War critic Senator George McGovern. The presidential contender’s proposed cut in U.S. military expenditure would, according to the “godfather” of neoconservatism, “drive a knife in the heart of Israel.”
“Jews don’t like big military budgets,” the elder Kristol explained in a Jewish publication in 1973. “But it is now an interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in the United States … American Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say, no, we don’t want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military budget big, so that we can defend Israel.”
American Greatness
Following his father’s advice, William Kristol has been a fervent supporter of massive U.S. military spending. In 1996, he co-authored with Robert Kagan an influential neocon manifesto titled “Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy.” It recommended that “America should pursue a vision of benevolent hegemony as bold as Reagan’s in the 1970s and wield its authority unabashedly.
“The defense budget should be increased dramatically, citizens should be educated to appreciate the military’s vital work abroad, and moral clarity should direct a foreign policy that puts the heat on dictators and authoritarian regimes.”
In response, another influential opinion-maker, Charles Krauthammer, hailed Kristol and Kagan as “the main proponents of what you might call the American greatness school.” It is hardly a coincidence, however, that all three advocates of “American greatness” care passionately about what Irving Kristol euphemistically referred to as “the survival of the state of Israel.” Or that many of those “dictators and authoritarian regimes” just happened to stand in the way of Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.
The following year, Kristol and Kagan co-founded the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a pressure group which sought to advance their “neo-Reaganite” vision. In the late 1990s, they did this mainly by writing letters to Bill Clinton, urging him to oust Saddam Hussein.
In September 2000, PNAC published “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” in which they famously acknowledged that “the process of transformation … is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor.”
One year later, they got their wished for “new Pearl Harbor” on September 11. The mass murder of almost 3,000 Americans was, as Benjamin Netanyahu indelicately put it, “very good” for Israel.
Kristol’s War
Immediately, Kristol’s Weekly Standard began linking Iraq to the attacks. Writing in The American Conservative, Scott McConnell explained the strategy: “Their rhetoric — which laid down a line from which the magazine would not waver over the next 18 months — was to link Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden in virtually every paragraph, to join them at the hip in the minds of readers.”
The “Saddam must go” campaign, begun in a Kristol and Kagan editorial as far back as 1997, became so relentless that Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen dubbed it “Kristol’s War.”
The Iraq War has, of course, also been called “Wolfowitz’s War.” But it could just as aptly have been named after Perle, Feith, Libby, Zelikow, Lieberman, or any of the other pro-Israeli insiders who took America to war by way of deception.
In “Irving Kristol RIP,” Antiwar.com editor Justin Raimondo described Kristol’s legacy as “war, war, and yet more war, as far as the eye can see.”
Unless Americans soon realize that they’ve been deceived by those for whom “American greatness” is merely a means to advance “the survival of the state of Israel,” that legacy promises to be an enduring one.
Maidhc Ó Cathail is a widely published writer based in Japan. To read more of his writing, go to Maidhc Ó Cathail: Writing and Analysis.

Norbert N, Salamon

Got a Watch:
Thanks for the clarifications

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