I understand you’ve proposed a laundry list of ways to save money and balance the budget. I agree that reining in the deficit is crucial in the long run. In the short run, it’s pure nitwittery. We’re still in a recession. Cutting domestic spending takes money out of the economy. It’s the opposite of a stimulus. Any counter-stimulus will dig our economy into a hole so deep, we’re liable to come out in China (but hey, they already own us).
Slashing people’s Social Security payments? Crappy idea. As a group, retirees aren’t saving on a massive scale. They’ll spend that money and goose the economy.
Cutting federal discretionary spending? Meredith Bagby at HuffPo counts some of the reasons only a numbskull would see this as solution.
It’s very easy to slash the domestic discretionary budget. It’s been done for decades by both parties, and there really isn’t anything left to squeeze out of it. Simpson-Bowles proposes cutting the federal workforce by 10% and freezing employees’ salaries for three years. This accepts on faith the conservative assumption that the government is doing something now that it shouldn’t be doing. But what, exactly? Prosecuting criminals? Funding medical research? Building levees, tunnels, and bridges? (All of the above?)
And that’s not all. Federal grants for low income college students. Federal grants for middle-income college students. Investments in alternative energy sources. Funding for studies on surviving the future oil shocks. Training for Arabic language specialists so we don’t misunderstand the Arab world even worse than we do now. Full funding for Head Start. Movement toward a true single-payer health system. Oh, and those research docs need more public funding, not less. (For all I criticize medicine, ultimately I hang a lot of hope on it.)
Pie in the sky, you say? Well, yes, when you take a look at the fresh herd of congresscritters. (Or is the correct term not a herd but – as for crows – a murder?)
But just take a peek at this pie (chart), via sexgenderbody’s Tumblr:
This is not the U.S. budget. This chart compares military expenditures among different countries. Somehow France, say, manages to provide excellent social services without bankrupting itself on military spending.
Conventional wisdom says we need to maintain our current military spending to stay safe. But honestly? Such astronomical expenditures are only needed to preserve an empire, not to assure our safety. Sometime during the past 60 years, “national security” morphed into “imperial security.” That’s why “homeland security was coined: because “national security” no longer denoted the actual need of the U.S.-American people to be safe.
In a post-9/11 world, spending almost as much as all other countries combined on defense is not making us safer. We are only adding to the misery of Afghans and Pakistanis. Meanwhile, we live in perpetual insecurity and fear, which is only amplified, ironically, by the statements and policies issuing from the Department of Homeland Security.
So, dear Catfood Commission, how ’bout we hive off a tenth of our military spending? Maybe even a twentieth, over the next decade or two? As a future grandmother of America, I object to eating catfood. If I’m lucky enough in my dotage to have an actual cat or two, I would not want to whisk the kibble out from under their whiskers.