Posts Tagged ‘Military budget’

The truth about President Obama’s budget

February 5, 2015

I like to write good things to write about President Obama.  It helps me to convince myself that I am a fair-minded person, and also convince my friends, most of whom are supporters of the President.

But usually when I do, it turns out there is a catch.  I feel as if I were Charlie Brown in the comic strip once again trusting Lucy to hold the football so he can kick it.

I wrote a post the other day praising the President for budget proposals, which contained some modest tax increases on the upper income brackets and some modest benefits from working people.

But now I realize I missed important parts—more spending for the military, tax reductions for the rich and cuts to Medicare.

Andre Demon, writing for the World Socialist Web Site, pointed out:

Obama’s budget proposal would increase Pentagon spending by 7 percent, adding an additional $38 billion to bring the total defense budget to $534 billion. 

Obama is separately proposing $51 billion in additional funding for the wars in Iraq and Syria, including money to back the so-called “moderate” opposition in Syria, as well for as the ongoing US troop presence in Afghanistan.

Newsweek - Obama - The Democrats ReaganThe budget calls for the corporate tax rate to be cut to 25 percent for manufacturers and 28 percent for other corporations, down from the current rate of 35 percent.

The proposal would also allow US corporations to repatriate past profits generated overseas at a tax rate of only 14 percent.  Foreign profits would be taxed at 19 percent in the future. 

Currently, US corporations pay a rate of 35 percent on foreign profits, which many corporations avoid by keeping their foreign earnings abroad.

These tax cuts are accompanied by $400 billion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and the Department of Health and Human Services. 

The budget proposes to raise $66 billion over ten years by charging higher Medicare premiums to upper-income patients, a move that would undermine Medicare’s status as a universal entitlement and open the door to means testing and the transformation of the government health insurance program for seniors into a poverty program.

The plan would cut another “$116 billion in Medicare payments to drug companies for medicines prescribed for low-income patients,” according to the New York Times. 

It would also slash $100 billion for the treatment of Medicare patients following their discharge from the hospital, affecting primarily the elderly.

via World Socialist Web Site.

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How large a military does the U.S. need?

October 16, 2012

Click to enlarge

A military budget analyst named Travis Sharp did an analysis of Governor Romney’s plan to increase U.S. military spending to 4 percent of Gross Domestic Product, and concluded that, sure enough, the Romney budget was $2 trillion more than the Obama budget over 10 years.

The two lines provide two alternative ways to get to 4 percent of GDP.  The “Romney Ramp Up” line would increase spending by 0.1 of a percent until it reached 4 percent, and then level off.   The “Romney Immediate” line would go immediately to 4 percent and stay there.

Is this too much?  It depends on the mission of the U.S. armed forces.  If the mission is to give the United States full spectrum dominance on every continent, as well as outer space, then 4 percent may not be enough.  But if the mission is to protect United States territory and American citizens, then it probably is too much.

While an Obama administration would spend less on the military than a Romney administration, the mission of the U.S. military would be just as expansive and open-ended.  The difference is that the Obama administration would place greater reliance on the CIA, special forces and flying killer robots and less on regular troops, and would be less likely to attack Iran with troops, but instead content itself with waging war by means of economic blockade, cyber-warfare and state-sponsored terrorism.

During the past 50 years, the U.S. armed forces defeated every enemy they’ve encountered in the field.  But victory in the field proved fruitless, because the U.S. forces have been been unable to compel the civilian population to obey them.  The Taliban in Afghanistan, like the Vietnamese Communists, are ruthless killers and authoritarian rulers, but they are effective ruthless killers.  They are embedded in the population, they know people individually, they can tell friend from foe, which a foreign invader can never do.  Troop buildups and spending on military equipment will not change this.

Here are two more charts, which put U.S. military spending in historic perspective.

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Secretary Gates’ warning on NATO

June 11, 2011
NATO countries in Europe are in blue. Click map to view.

The Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle this morning reported that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned NATO allies that the United States can’t continue to support the alliance if European allies don’t do their share.

Robert Gates

Without naming names, he criticized “nations apparently willing and eager for American taxpayers to assume the growing security burden left by reductions in European defense budgets.”  He said that unless something changes, NATO could cease to exist.

Earlier Gates warned that if the United States cuts back on its military budget, the U.S. government will no longer be able to project its power on a global basis.

Gates stated the alternatives honestly and correctly.  But would the demise of NATO be such a terrible thing?  Would a cutback on the reach of the U.S. military be such a bad thing?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in 1949 because leaders of the nations of western Europe, devastated by war, did not believe they could defend themselves against the Red Army.  For more than 40 years, the United States maintained forces in western Europe which, along with the U.S. nuclear arsenal, deterred any thought the Soviet leaders might have had of attacking Europe.

Now the Soviet Union no longer exists.  Western European countries have good relations with the Russian Federation.  True, some of the eastern European countries formerly dominated by the Soviet Union want a U.S. guarantee.  NATO has expanded to take many of them in.  But is it the responsibility of United States to bear 43 percent of the world’s military expenditures to provide this reassurance?  If a guarantee is needed, shouldn’t the European nations provide it?

Currently NATO is mainly an adjunct to the U.S. global “war on terror.”  NATO allies were quick to join the United States in 2002 in the invasion of Afghanistan, but the people of France, Britain and other European countries no longer see this as being in their interest.  I think the people of the United States are slowly coming to the same conclusion – that invading foreign countries does not make this country safer.

If the United States did not have military bases on every continent, and military forces able to intervene almost anywhere in the world, there would be fewer U.S. military interventions.  I think this would be a good thing, not a bad thing.

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