The Sanctity of Military Spending

Administration officials announced last night
that the President, in tomorrow's State of the Union address, will
propose a multi-year freeze on certain domestic discretionary spending
programs. This is an "initiative intended to signal his seriousness
about cutting the budget deficit," officials told The New York Times.

Administration officials announced last night
that the President, in tomorrow's State of the Union address, will
propose a multi-year freeze on certain domestic discretionary spending
programs. This is an "initiative intended to signal his seriousness
about cutting the budget deficit," officials told The New York Times.

the freeze is more notable for what it excludes than what it includes.
For now, it does not include the largest domestic spending programs:
Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. And all "security-releated
programs" are also exempted from the freeze, which means it does not
apply to military spending, the intelligence budget, the Surveillance
State, or foreign military aid. As always, the notion of decreasing
the deficit and national debt through reductions in military spending
is one of the most absolute Washington taboos. What possible rationale
is there for that?

The facts
about America's bloated, excessive, always-increasing military spending
are now well-known. The U.S. spends almost as much on military
spending as the entire rest of the world combined, and spends roughly
six times more than the second-largest spender, China. Even as the
U.S. sunk under increasingly crippling levels of debt over the last
decade, defense spending rose steadily, sometimes precipitously. That
explosion occurred even as overall military spending in the rest of the
world decreased, thus expanding the already-vast gap between our
expenditures and the world's. As one "defense" spending watchdog group
put it: "The US military budget was almost 29 times as large as the combined spending of the six 'rogue' states
(Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) who spent $14.65
billion." To get a sense for how thoroughly military spending
dominates our national budget, consider this chart showing where
Americans' tax revenue goes:

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Since much of that overall spending is mandatory, military spending -- all of which is discretionary -- accounts for over 50% of discretionary government spending.
Yet it's absolutely forbidden to even contemplate reducing it as a
means of reducing our debt or deficit. To the contrary, Obama ran on a
platform of increasing military spending, and that is one of the few
pledges he is faithfully and enthusiastically filling (while violating his pledge not to use deceitful budgetary tricks to fund our wars):

President Barack Obama will ask Congress for an additional $33 billion to fight unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on top of a record $708 billion for the Defense Department next year, The Associated Press has learned.

sum, as we cite our debtor status to freeze funding for things such as
"air traffic control, farm subsidies, education, nutrition and national
parks" -- all programs included in Obama's spending freeze -- our
military and other "security-related" spending habits become more
bloated every year, completely shielded from any constraints or
reality. This, despite the fact that it is virtually impossible for
the U.S. to make meaningful progress in debt reduction without serious
reductions in our military programs.

Public opinion is
not a legitimate excuse for this utterly irrational conduct, as large
percentages of Americans are receptive to reducing -- or at least
freezing -- defense spending. A June, 2009 Pew Research poll
asked Americans what they would do about defense spending, and 55% said
they would either decrease it (18%) or keep it the same (37%); only 40%
wanted it to increase. Even more notably, a 2007 Gallup poll
found that "the public's view that the federal government is spending
too much on the military has increased substantially this year, to its highest level in more than 15 years."
In that poll, 58% of Democrats and 47% of Independents said that
military spending "is too high" -- and the percentages who believe that
increased steadily over the last decade for every group.

clear fact is that, no matter how severe are our budgetary constraints,
military spending and all so-called "security-related programs" are
off-limits for any freezes, let alone decreases. Moreover, the modest
spending freeze to be announced by Obama tomorrow is just the start;
the Washington consensus has solidified
and is clearly gearing up for major cuts in Social Security, Medicare
and Medicaid, with the dirty work to be done by an independent "deficit
commission." It's time for "everyone" to sacrifice and suffer some
more -- as long as "everyone" excludes our vast military industry, the
permanent power factions inside the Pentagon and intelligence
community, our Surveillance and National Security State, and the
imperial policies of perpetual war which feed them while further
draining the lifeblood out of the country.

just saw this scary headline on MSNBC, became very frightened, and have
changed my mind, as I now realize we need to massively increase our
military spending to Stay Safe!!!

The Washington Post is hyping the same report.
Apparently, it's breaking news -- meriting screaming red-alert
headlines -- that Al Qaeda would like to ("aims to") acquire WMDs and
use them against the U.S. But we should all try to remain a little
calm, at least. I'm sure if we just buy some more fighter jets, create
some better underground bombs, invade a few more Muslim countries, keep
more Muslims imprisoned forever with no charges, give the Pentagon, the
CIA and their private contractors a lot more unaccounted-for cash and
stay out of their way, expand our domestic spying networks even further
through private sector telecom contracts, pour tens of billions of
dollars more into the coffers of our Middle East client states, and
kill a few more civilians with drones, this problem will be handled.
It's just a matter of making sure we bulk up our military budget --
and Look Forward, not Backward to what was done in the past -- and
we'll be able to Stay Safe from this Terrorist-WMD menace.

for the deficit, no need to worry about that. We can just freeze
programs for national parks and cut Social Security and Medicare.

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