Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The (Indebted) State of the Union

Susan wanted to watch the State of the Union address tonight. I wasn't particularly interested. I told her I knew what Obama was going to say. To wit: he'll brag about health care bill, he'll pump the war in Afghanistan, shout huzzahs for everyone in the military, and congratulate himself for getting out of Iraq (although we still have 50,000 troops there--I don't call that getting out. I call no troops there getting out.) He will also underscore the size of the national debt and propose ways to start lowering it. He will make it clear he will not touch social security and he'll be in favor of improving Medicare. Well, he said all these things, and to tell the truth he didn't say much more. The economy dominated the speech, and going on memory I cannot remember much in the way of specifics to deal with the deficit. He wants a freeze on federal spending for the next five years. That's not going to make the Republicans too happy. They want to take a meat ax to the budget. Obama says he will not sign any bills with earmarks in it . . . well, okay, but this is just nibbling.

First of all, I didn't hear anything--or I don't remember anything--about the recommendations the president's own deficit reduction committee (a copy of its report is here). As I recall, that committee prescribed some strong medicine, much stronger than I heard tonight. One thing is for certain: the Republicans are not going to be happy with this.

And I'm not happy with it either. And I'll tell you why: all these cuts (and all the slashing the Republicans want to do, except they include social security) do not touch the defense budget (a huge monstrosity that is eating us up), the homeland security budget (and nobody has a frigging clue really how much this and all its ancillary programs and agencies is costing us), and any of the myriad spy agencies. Moreover, there's nobody talking about this stuff. Now, the DoD has tried to head 'em off at the pass on cuts. Gates has dumped programs that the military doesn't want, etc. But nobody raises the fundamental question of why we require an empire's military, and why have we let the terrorists succeed in terrifying us so out of our wits that we throw money into war and "homeland security" like there were no other priorities that we ought to be funding?

Make no mistake about this, my friends: the corporate beast is still going to be fed by the federal budget. Their bucks are sacrosanct. It's the little people who are going to pay, as usual.
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