Defense spending: another piece you may not have noticed

Published online 20 February 2012.

This one from The Nation magazine:

Obama’s Plan to Save the Military From Cuts—at the Expense of Domestic Programs
George Zornick on February 17, 2012 – 3:21 PM ETAs budget wonks comb over President Obama’s outline for fiscal year 2013, a startling White House plan has become clear: the administration is seeking to undo some mandatory cuts to the Pentagon at the expense of critical domestic programs.

Hat tip to Yves Smith for noticing this one.It’s based on a CEPR piece by Richard Kogan here.  In the Nation piece, Zornick goes over the sneaky way in which the Obama administration plans to pivot on a distinction between “defense spending’ and “security spending’ in order to avoid cutting the defense budget despite the automatic spending cuts mandated in the “debt ceiling deal.”

Now, I’m not really interested here in provoking interest in “Decision 2012” or whatever the TV networks call it.  My interest here at has from the outset been to encourage the American public to recognize its own self-interest, and to act directly to promote that self-interest.  I suppose my attitude toward the election would be different if I were living in a swing state, but the reality is that I live in California — and if Obama were to be in trouble in California he would have lost any chance of winning the election already.

But what I want to focus upon, here, is the whole foolishness of making this the “Decade of Austerity,” which is what we saw from Congress and the President last year.  Zornick:

When the debt ceiling deal passed in August, it implemented discretionary spending caps through 2021. This meant that if Congress appropriated money above certain levels for discretionary spending—which is basically everything the government spends money on, minus entitlement benefits and interest on the debt—something called sequestration kicks in, which entails automatic, across-the-board cuts to bring the budget back under the spending caps.

So if we needed, say, a crash program to move the United States onto alternative energy, or a jobs program to make a serious dent in the unemployment problem, or whatever — too bad, this is the decade of austerity.  The defense lobbyists own the budget, and so because of austerity you can’t have any (more).Oh, sure, there was some complaining about this plan here and at Firedoglake, but the reality underlying the debt ceiling deal was revealed by Jane Hamsher some time ago: pretty much the entire political class is against us on this.  Hamsher:

There were 173 Democrats in the House –  including Dennis Kucinich and every single member of the Progressive Caucus –  who voted for Reid’s Catfood II Super Congress yesterday. The one that is designed to cut Social Security and Medicare.  That’s what it’s there for.  That’s the only reason it exists. To allow Congress to fork over the power entrusted to them by the citizens who elected them to an elite body that stands above congress itself, and escape electoral retribution for doing something that 82% of the country does not want them to do.

Has it sunk in yet?  Last year Congress voted for ten years of austerity.  I have to laugh at these people who argue that Occupy “changed the political conversation in this country.”  The 1% was united in their laughter at our naive foolishness as their political clients voted for ten years of austerity.  Are they now laughing in a different tone of voice or something?


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