Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Congress Demonstrates its Fiscal Skepticism

Er, title changed to reflect the fact that I'm not an idiot re: possessive v. contraction

So, that crusader for peace and hope, Barack Obama, has once again demonstrated his commitment to prolonging the Bush presidency. On Tuesday, the Senate approved his first defense budget, with the stated price tag of $626 billion, the largest ever. That's greater than the GDP of all but 17 countries using the IMF numbers from 2008. And again, this was significantly higher than the largest budget requested by Bush, putting perhaps the final nail in the coffin of the fantastical belief that Obama will lead the country down a different path in foreign policy.

I say "stated" because history shows that the Defense Department is never held to the number. If the budget runs over, so be it. Also, as Tom Engelhardt notes, "various military expenses like the upkeep of our nuclear arsenal aren't even in that budget."

The budget itself is no surprise, as any suggestions that the US will ever pare down its military expenditures are grounds for forced commitment and life in a padded cell. The grating part is that for months Republicans and Democrats alike have been parading around feigning fiscal responsibility in the health care debate, rushing to declare that $850 billion over 10 years signifies the height of recklessness. Yet here we see the Senate pass a bill 93-7 which promises to exceed that in less than a year and half. Bipartisanism is alive and well, indeed.

But it’s more than simply the obvious lack of logical continuity and mathematical literacy here. It’s the laughable claim that these Congressmen oppose any sort of health care reform on the grounds that it would put the government into a controlling position over the free market. But consider where this money goes. It is nothing but a vast diversion of public money (presumably the same money the tea-baggers would like back) to private companies.

The money will go, as always, to the same companies lusting for the free market in no-bid, cost-plus contracts. It will go toward creating artificial overseas markets for those same companies. It will provide those companies with a consumer (us) with no arena for recourse, no ability to express displeasure with capital flight; Or, not one indicator of the free market these businesses and their compatriots in Congress claim their un-dying affection for. Artificial markets. No free choice on the part of the consumer. Nothing which would signify free market principles.

Of course, the claim will be made that “defense” is not something to be debated. Unlike health care, “defense” is not an arena where these vermin who vacillate over every last dollar of a health care bill can enter with similar skepticism. The President says “I want this much (for now),” and Congress says, “How fast can I funnel that to you?”

And of course, using the money as the United States is wont to do will always create a higher demand for the next year’s budget. We need the money for defense because people hate us, we use the money to exacerbate those feelings, therefore we will need more next year to combat the bile we’re milked from the world in this one. All the while, we pretend that Afghanis and Iraqis will forget that they are without electricity, food, or basic security from bodily harm. They will forget the death squads, forget the corrupt governments, forget the Predator raids on weddings. They will forget, and then they’ll love us and our freedoms.

Until then, dying Americans will just have to wait while Congress spends as much in less than 18 months—without batting an eye—as they refuse to consider spending over the course of a decade for their own citizens.

Related Posts:

Mental Recession or Just Mental? July 15, 2008
Surge II: Afghanistan July 15, 2008

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