Monday, August 01, 2011


President Obama announced a debt ceiling deal last night that has been described by Paul Krugman as

a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America’s long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status.

Andrew Leonard gives further disturbing details about the deal in Salon:

The details of the deal are stark: at least $2.5 trillion in spending cuts over the next two years, a two-stage approach to raising the debt ceiling, and a new committee to recommend further cuts to entitlement programs, along with huge automatic spending cuts if Congress fails to institute that plan. As described, the deal is a major victory for Republicans that will further embolden them over the next 18 months, and may mortally wound Obama's chances of reelection.

The president told the nation that after ten years the United States would have "the lowest level of annual domestic spending since Dwight Eisenhower was President." He said this as if it was something to be proud of. The truth is, we are a far different nation today than we were in the 1950s. We have millions more citizens, and are undergoing a major demographic shift as the Baby Boomer generation ages. With health care costs continuing to rise, the squeeze will be on. People will suffer.

Obama is bragging about the country having the lowest domestic spending since Eisenhower when the population has increased from 179 million in 1960 when Eisenhower left office to 311 million people in 2010.

Gee, do you think a net increase of 132 million people might require some more domestic spending on things like infrastructure, education, health care, and other social programs?

I do, but apparently President Obama doesn't.

Meanwhile, as the Republicans, aided by the weak, ineffectual President Obama and his Democratic water carriers and sell-outs here at home, make cuts to the government that Reagan and Bush could have only dreamed of, how much are they spending on our overseas empire and various wars?

Well, let's see:

The U.S. accounts for 43% of the total world military spending.

Let me repeat:

The U.S. accounts for 43% of the total world military spending - more than the next 15 countries combined.

The U.S. has 700 military bases in 130 countries around the world.

We are currently engaged in three wars - one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan, one in Libya.

The cost of the Libyan incursion is already high - by mid-May, the amount of money Obama spent to drop "Freedom Bombs" on Libya was $664 million, much higher than initial Pentagon estimates.

We are still dropping bombs on Libya at the cost of $60 million a month.

And Libya's just the little, "throwaway" war.

The real money is going to Afghanistan ($118.6 billion) and Iraq ($49.3 billion.)

So Obama, the Republicans and the Democrats are directly cutting domestic spending here at home, cutting Social Security and Medicare, cutting food stamps and other much needed programs during a time of high unemployment and economic malaise while they spend all this money on these overseas wars, on the "War on Terror," on overseas empire.

This is what the "End of an Empire" looks like - a nation spends all this money on war and guns and bombs and foreign aid and spying while it slashes domestic spending to the bone, people here at home be damned.

I was never one of those "Hopey/Changey" people who actually believed the garbage Obama spewed during the 2008 campaign.

I always thought he was a corporate Dem like Bill Clinton who would sell out middle and working class Americans for the oligarchs of the country.

But even I never thought the breadth of Obama's surrender to the corporate interests would be this big.

As Robert Reich wrote this morning:

The deal does not raise taxes on America’s wealthy and most fortunate — who are now taking home a larger share of total income and wealth, and whose tax rates are already lower than they have been, in eighty years. Yet it puts the nation’s most important safety nets and public investments on the chopping block.

It also hobbles the capacity of the government to respond to the jobs and growth crisis. Added to the cuts already underway by state and local governments, the deal’s spending cuts increase the odds of a double-dip recession. And the deal strengthens the political hand of the radical right.

Obama could have framed the debt ceiling issue this way - Reagan raised the debt ceiling 22 times, George W. Bush raised the debt ceiling 9 times. As a country, we have raised the debt ceiling more than 100 times. The overwhelming majority of countries in the world do not have a debt ceiling anyway, and a time of economic crisis like we have now decrees that we continue to spend at the government level until the economy heals enough for the private sector to pick up the slack. When the economy heals and people are back to work, the debt will go down as tax revenues increase and we can deal with cuts to spending then.

But instead Obama used this debt ceiling "crisis" to push through permanent cuts to Social Security and Medicare, to slash domestic spending to the bone and bring it back to Eisenhower-era levels even as the country continues to spend so much money on wars and overseas empire.

Oh, but you know what program didn't get cut in this weekend's Domestic Program Slash and Burn?

Race to the Top 2.

Apparently promoting charter schools and public school privatization is the kind of domestic spending that both Obama and Republicans can believe in.
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