Among the obscenities in the Obama-McConnell deficit steal is that it actually give $50 billion more to the defense budget, thus effectively stealing from social welfare to finance the war industry, McClatchy reports:
The last-minute deal that Congress is considering to raise the federal debt limit probably will mean trillions of dollars in government spending reductions for most agencies. But one department stands to gain: the Pentagon.
Rather than cutting $400 billion in defense spending through 2023, as President Barack Obama had proposed in April, the current debt proposal trims $350 billion through 2024, effectively giving the Pentagon $50 billion more than it had been expecting over the next decade….
But the proposed figures — after weeks of drawn-out, vitriolic debate between both political parties — raise questions about what, if anything, could lead to substantial defense reductions. Military spending has more or less survived the drawdown of two wars and a domestic economic crisis. Even now, Congress can’t agree on how much to cut defense spending while maintaining U.S. military strength.
Tom Engelhardt reminds us that the $400 billion in “cuts” were never “cuts” anyway:
In little of the reporting on this was it apparent that Obama’s $400 billion in Pentagon “cuts” are not cuts at all — not unless you consider an obese person, who continues eating at the same level but reduces his dreams of ever grander future repasts, to be on a diet. The “cuts” in the White House proposal, that is, will only be from projected future Pentagon growth rates.
Paul Krugman is fond of calling the US government “an insurance company with an army.” If present trends continue, it will become simply an army.
MCCONNELL: It set the template for the future. In the future, Neil, no president—in the near future, maybe in the distant future—is going to be able to get the debt ceiling increased without a re-ignition of the same discussion of how do we cut spending and get America headed in the right direction. I expect the next president, whoever that is, is going to be asking us to raise the debt ceiling again in 2013, so we’ll be doing it all over.
continues by pointing out that the debt ceiling is now another of the structural impediments to progressive change, or even infrastructure repair that dominate our political system:
The longest-lasting impact of this whole farce has been to create yet another structural impediment to progressive change in Washington. Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson describe this sort of thing in their tremendous new book Winner-Take-All Politics as a “ratchet effect”: hidden, arcane structural effects whose result is to create nearly unstoppable advantages for big business, and insurmountable obstacles economic justice for the American People. Other ratchets include the filibuster, unequal vote apportionment in the Senate, “phased out” tax cuts that never really phase out, changes to the way unemployment is calculated, etc.
Now the debt ceiling can be added to that list as perhaps one of the biggest, most important such ratchets of all time.
The richest 1% of US Americans earn nearly a quarter of the country’s income and control an astonishing 40% of its wealth. Inequality in the US is more extreme than it’s been in almost a century — and the gap between the super rich and the poor and middle class people has widened drastically over the last 30 years.
Meanwhile, in Washington, a bitter partisan debate over how to cut deficit spending and reduce the US’ 14.3 trillion dollar debt is underway. As low and middle class wages stagnate and unemployment remains above 9%, Republicans and Democrats are tussling over whether to slash funding for the medical and retirement programs that are the backbone of the US’s social safety net, and whether to raise taxes — or to cut them further.
The budget debate and the economy are the battleground on which the 2012 presidential election race will be fought. And the United States has never seemed so divided — both politically and economically.
How did the gap grow so wide, and so quickly? And how are the convictions, campaign contributions and charitable donations of the top 1% impacting the other 99% of Americans? Fault Lines investigates the gap between the rich and the rest.
This episode of Fault Lines first aired on Al Jazeera English on August 2, 2011 at 0930 GMT.