Thursday, April 14, 2011

What the President neglected to mention ...

The President's big budget speech today had some good lines in it. He hit some good themes in his best parental mode, reminding us we are members of a community, dependent on each other.

We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff, may strike any one of us. “There but for the grace of God go I,” we say to ourselves, and so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, and those with disabilities.

We are a better country because of these commitments. I’ll go further – we would not be a great country without those commitments.

Of course whether the nice rhetoric will survive making deals with Republicans who don't give a rat's ass about community or anyone but their rich sponsors ... well, we'll see. It is hard to trust this guy; the fruit hasn't yet matched its promise.


What was completely missing from the budget message was any sense that putting the U.S. fiscal house in order MUST involve cuts in our crazy expenditures on the military.
  • Where's the money for our new war in Libya coming from?
  • Why are we still killing and being killed in Afghanistan where neither Afghans nor the U.S. people want us there?
  • Why do we need to pay out 42 percent of the entire global expenditure on war and war preparations? We're rich, but not that rich. The world can be dangerous, but does all that armament make it more or less dangerous.

Chart data from SIPRI

Most people in the United States think we spend something like 25 percent of the budget on foreign aid. Not true; the real amount is less than one percent. If you add together current wars, the standing military including its hardware, and debt owed to pay for past wars, what we call "defense" spending is something more than 50 percent of the budget. (Chart is for 2009 by way of WRL. Doubt if it is more than a percentage point different one way or another for this year.)
The President pledged not to seek fiscal health by "asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill ..." We'll know he's serious when he cuts into the war budget.


Rain Trueax said...

Those were good charts to explain the situation.

naomi dagen bloom said...

Obama can definitely give a stirring speech. Some of us are tired of his unwillingness to stir the political pot in favor of everyday people-- the ones barely getting by, the ones whose kids' public school budgets are being cut, the list is endless.