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tvashtarkatena

Health Care

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More Than 53% of Your Tax Payment Goes to the Military

 

by Dave Lindorff

 

he budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which has to be voted by Congress by this Oct. 1, looks to be about $3 trillion, not counting the funds collected for Social Security (since the Vietnam War, the government has included the Social Security Trust Fund in the budget as a way to make the cost of America's imperial military adventures seem smaller in comparison to the total cost of government). Meanwhile, the military share of the budget works out to about $1.6 trillion.

 

That figure includes the Pentagon budget request of $708 billion, plus an estimated $200 billion in supplemental funding, called "overseas contingency funding" in euphemistic White House-speak), to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, some $40 billion or more in "black box" intelligence agency funding, $94 billion in non-DOD military spending, $100 billion in veterans benefits and health care spending, and $400 billion in interest on debt raised to pay for prior wars and the standing military.

 

The 2011 military budget, by the way, is the largest in history, not just in actual dollars, but in inflation adjusted dollars, exceeding even the spending in World War II, when the nation was on an all-out military footing.

 

Military spending in all its myriad forms works out to represent 53.3% of total US federal spending.

 

It's also a budget that is rising at a faster pace than any other part of the budget (with the possible exception of bailing out crooked Wall Street financial firms and their managers). For the past decade, and continuing under the present administration, military budgets have been rising at a 9% annual clip, making health care inflation look tiny by comparison.

 

[..]

 

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/04/13-4

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"Look - over there..."

 

:lmao:

 

Yes. Tell me about credibility. Ha.

 

that's rich coming from the guy who claims that SS is responsible for the debt crisis, when in fact it is solvent for at least another 30 years. Intellectual honesty seems to be an entirely foreign concept for JayB.

 

I'd say that the consistently spending more than you take in, and making fiscal promises you can't keep are responsible for the debt, the current and projected magnitudes of which have risen to levels that cause people to invoke the word "crisis" when discussing it.

 

Anytime you want to discuss where the money will have to come from to fund the conversion of accounting ledger entries that constitute the SS assets into cash benefits, let me know.

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"Look - over there..."

 

:lmao:

 

Yes. Tell me about credibility. Ha.

 

If you're not ready to admit you have a problem, you're not ready to get well. What does rock-bottom look like for the neoliberal fundamentalist, I wonder?

 

Somalia is a deregulated/small government paradise to market fundamentalists like JayB so there is likely a way to go before reaching rock-bottom as far as he is concerned

 

Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand are actually at the top of the list.

 

http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking.aspx

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Singapore being a great model for the closet-authoritarian "fixing broken windows" crowd...

Edited by prole

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I'd say that the consistently spending more than you take in,

 

that was your plan all along. Remember the anti-government zealots' "let's shrink government so that we can drown it in a bathtub"? come on, grow a sack and own up to it.

 

and making fiscal promises you can't keep are responsible for the debt, the current and projected magnitudes of which have risen to levels that cause people to invoke the word "crisis" when discussing it.

 

bullshit. Medicare is going bankrupt because it serves those that need it the most while private insurance ditches them, and because of skyrocketing health care cost that YOU refused to fix. SOcial Security is fine thank you, albeit with a minor fix or 2. Budget shortfall is almost entirely explained by lack of tax revenues thanks to the trickle down drivel and the deregulation driven recession that YOU pushed for all these years.

 

Anytime you want to discuss where the money will have to come from to fund the conversion of accounting ledger entries that constitute the SS assets into cash benefits, let me know.

 

repeating your lame arguments isn't going to do you any good.

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A little reminder for regressives with poor memory and/or misplaced intellectual honesty:

 

STARVING THE BEAST

For decades, a key part of the anti-government agenda of conservatives has been to cut spending on social programs. Their targeted programs have included: health care for the elderly and poor, welfare and food stamps, military retirement, drug abuse centers, unemployment compensation, aid to education, college student loans, nursing homes, employment training, childcare centers, housing subsidies for the elderly and disabled, and school nutrition. They believe that these programs have grown too large and cost taxpayers to much money.

 

But attacking social spending has not been easy. Most Americans think that these programs do a lot of good and do not want to see them cut. Indeed, as another article on this site points out, most of us want the government to actually spend more on education, retirement, and health care – not less.

So Republicans have developed a tactic for attacking social spending that they hope will not trigger the ire of the public – an indirect attack on these programs. The tactic? Tax cuts. The idea is simple: if we keep cutting taxes, eventually there won’t be enough money to spend on these social programs and they will have to be reduced. They call this tactic “starving the beast.” Taxes are what nourish government, and so if that source of nourishment is taken way, government must inevitably shrink. For anti-tax advocates like Grover Norquist, this is the ultimate purpose of tax cuts: “The goal is reducing the size and scope of government by draining its lifeblood.”1

 

Milton Friedman, the arch-conservative economist, speaking of ways to limit or reduce the size of government, offered this prescription: “How can we ever cut government down to size? I believe there is only one way: the way parents control spendthrift children, cutting their allowance. For the government, that means cutting taxes. Resulting deficits will be an effective – I would go as far as to say, the only effective – restraint on the spending propensities of the executive branch and the legislature.”2

 

So underneath all the Republican rhetoric about cutting taxes – all the talk about stimulating the economy and giving money back to hardworking Americans – there is another, deeper political goal: to strangle government social programs. But this is rarely discussed publicly. Conservatives focus the public’s attention on what they will gain from the tax cuts, not what they will lose by reducing social programs.

 

This strategy was first tried in the Reagan administration. He came into office in 1980 promising to balance the federal budget. But he quickly cut taxes and raised military spending, creating huge budget deficits. (Sound familiar?) This made little sense to many people at the time and was not understood until Reagan’s budget advisor, David Stockman, later revealed that this was a conscious effort to “starve the beast” – a phrase he is reputed to have coined.3 The idea was to put increasing financial pressure on social programs in order to make it easier to cut them. And indeed, it had some effect, with domestic discretionary spending, falling from 4.5% of the economy in 1981 to 3.3% in 1988.3

 

A series of massive tax cuts during the George W. Bush administration revived this strategy and implemented it in a much more extensive way. These tax cuts cost the federal government over two trillion dollars ($2,000,000,000,000) in lost revenue from 2001 to 2010 alone.5 As economist Paul Krugman observed at the time, “‘starving the beast’ is no longer a hypothetical scenario. It’s happening as we speak. For decades, conservatives have sought tax cuts, not because they’re affordable, but because they aren’t.”6

 

The Goal: Massive Cuts in Social Programs

 

So what kinds of drastic cuts in government social programs are conservatives really after? To see, we need only look at the 2007 budget proposal made by President Bush. His proposal covered budget goals for the five years from 2007 to 2011. Bush targeted programs such as education, housing, job training, environmental protection, community development, and children’s services for $221 billion in cuts. These would have been severe and unprecedented reductions in these programs. But it is important to see that these kinds of cuts in discretionary spending – whether they were in education or environmental protection – were only part of the starving-the-beast strategy. Anti-government activists were also out for much bigger game: cuts in mandatory spending for the large entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. These programs form the bulk of federal spending and they were the ultimate targets. The President’s 2007 proposal also hacked away at this kind of mandatory spending – detailing $65 billion in cuts for these programs. This included $36 billion to be taken from Medicare programs and $14 billion for Medicaid. Over $650 million would also have been cut from Food Stamps, thus denying them to over 300,000 people in working families.7

 

But as draconian as these proposed cuts were, they paled in comparison to the budget reductions being demanded that same year by some Republicans in Congress. The Republican Study Committee, a groups of conservatives members of the House of Representatives, proposed to establish an “entitlement cap” that would have limited the total federal expenditures for entitlement programs other than Social Security. This cap would have required that projected entitlement spending be slashed by $1.8 trillion over the next ten years. That translates into $766 billion cut from Medicare, $405 billion from Medicaid, $114 billion from federal civilian retirement and disability, $66 billion from military retirement and disability, $63 billion from unemployment compensation, and $50 billion from food stamps.8 The Committee argued that such these program cuts were necessary for the “restoration of the American dream.” They were obviously not taking into account the dreams of the elderly, the sick, the disabled, the jobless, and the poor who would have to pay the price for these truly staggering reductions in federal programs.

 

Ironically, despite having advocated such deep cuts in spending, these conservative budget plans would have done little or nothing to reduce the deficit because they included a new round of large tax cuts – $1.7 trillion in new tax reductions in the case of the President’s budget.

 

The Deficit Trap

 

There is an obvious problem with this starving the beast strategy. On the federal level, cutting taxes does not necessarily require spending cuts: the government may only just borrow money and increase its debt to continue spending. And this is exactly what happened during the Bush administration. Along with this tax cuts, Bush also oversaw some large increases in government spending – mostly in the area of defense. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost an estimated 900 billion dollars between 2001 and 2009. This combination of increased spending and huge tax cuts caused budget deficits to soar during the Bush years. This led some conservatives to complain that Bush had abandoned the idea of limited government. David Brooks concluded in one of his New York Times columns that all this spending and the growing deficits heralded “the death of small government conservatism.”9

 

But these accusations were misplaced. They ignored one key fact: growing deficits were entirely consistent with the long-term plan to reduce government. The hope was that soaring deficits and a rapidly growing national debt would eventually force policymakers to reduce government spending – whether they liked it or not. From its very first days, the Bush administration embraced deficits as a good way to reign in government. In August of 2001, as the federal budget surpluses began to disappear and new deficits began to loom, the president had an unusual fit of candor and described these developments as "incredibly positive news," arguing that this would now put Congress in a "fiscal straitjacket."10 Republicans in Congress also came around to this point of view. As conservative Rick Santorum explained it, he first hated deficits, but then came to like them because they made it harder to pass any new spending bills. “I came to the House as a real deficit hawk but I am no longer a deficit hawk. I’ll tell you why. …Deficits make it easier to say no.”11

 

Clearly if the Republicans had remained in power in Washington and their program of massive tax cuts had continued, deeper reductions in spending for mandatory programs, even including Social Security, would eventually have become inevitable. Deficits and public debt simply cannot continue to grow forever. At some point, the federal government eventually has to start paying its bills. As Paul Krugman has explained, the crunch would most like come when baby boomers begin to retire and start making increasing demands on the Social Security and Medicare systems. At that point, the gap between the government’s income and its outlays would become alarmingly large. The government would have no choice but to either rapidly raise taxes or drastically cut spending. Given the difficulty of raising taxes, the most likely scenario – and the one anti-government conservatives would favor – would be for government to dramatically slash spending. "We're not talking about minor policy adjustments,” says Krugman. “If taxes stay as low as they are now, government as we know it cannot be maintained."12 He predicts that we could experience cuts of up to 40% on some of the largest government programs: "Social Security will have to become far less generous; Medicare will no longer be able to guarantee comprehensive medical care to older Americans; Medicaid will no longer provide basic medical care to the poor."13

 

more: http://www.governmentisgood.com/articles.php?aid=14

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Here we go! Obama's nanny state isn't wasting much time:

 

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,591285,00.html

 

U.S. regulators are planning a push to gradually cut the amount of salt Americans consume, saying less sodium would reduce deaths from hypertension and heart disease, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

 

The effort would eventually lead to the first legal limits on the amount of salt allowed in processed foods, the newspaper

reported. The plan is to be launched this year but officials have not set salt limits.

 

The government plans to work with the food industry and health experts to reduce sodium gradually over a period of years to ratchet down sodium consumption, the newspaper said, citing U.S. Food and Drug Administration sources.

 

U.S. researchers said in a recent study that working with the food industry to cut salt intake by nearly 10 percent could prevent hundreds of thousands of heart attacks and strokes over several decades and save the U.S. government $32 billion in healthcare costs. . . .

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Next thing you know they'll make it illegal to drive your car without a seatbelt on ;(.

 

Obama should be going after that crazy deep fried crap they sell at the fair! Deep fried snickers, etc...

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The effort would eventually lead to the first legal limits on the amount of salt allowed in processed foods...

 

Jesus Christ, there wasn't a limit already?! What took so long?

Edited by prole

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If you outlaw the great taste of Funyuns, only outlaws will enjoy the great taste of Funyuns.

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J_B, you don't have any original thoughts, do you? Cut and paste king...

 

This thread is full of them, and great links to back them up. If you think you're right and they're wrong, this kind of post only shows the weakness and lack of power for your position Nitrox. JB and Prole do overreach all the time, but when they do, point it out to them and back it up with a link and some facts.

 

I thought Clinton said it best on the tax cuts for the rich thing: he said (I'm paraphrasing) it doesn't make any sense to not collect that money from folks who can afford it, and go borrow it form the Chinese instead....

 

As far as all the ranking and dissing on Libertarians, few rational persons were supporting the Bush economic drive down to hell that he took this country, no matter what your politics. "Tax and spend" like the Dems get charged with is arguably better any day of the week than the "borrow and spend" policies of all recent republican presidents from Reagan on.

 

Thanks for the great debate guys. It's a good read, made better by less personal attacks than normal.

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J_B, you don't have any original thoughts, do you? Cut and paste king...

 

This thread is full of them, and great links to back them up. If you think you're right and they're wrong, this kind of post only shows the weakness and lack of power for your position Nitrox. JB and Prole do overreach all the time, but when they do, point it out to them and back it up with a link and some facts.

 

I thought Clinton said it best on the tax cuts for the rich thing: he said (I'm paraphrasing) it doesn't make any sense to not collect that money from folks who can afford it, and go borrow it form the Chinese instead....

 

As far as all the ranking and dissing on Libertarians, few rational persons were supporting the Bush economic drive down to hell that he took this country, no matter what your politics. "Tax and spend" like the Dems get charged with is arguably better any day of the week than the "borrow and spend" policies of all recent republican presidents from Reagan on.

 

Thanks for the great debate guys. It's a good read, made better by less personal attacks than normal.

 

I actually laughed at your post. J_B tried to refute the 2009 budget with an antiwar pie chart that mixed debt with current spending. He also refuses to acknowledge that the SS is filled with treasury bonds. Hell, the Healthcare Bill gets part of its "deficit neutral" status by borrowing $65B from SS.

 

J_B has repeated been corrected through this thread but just ignores it and plows through with Chomsky videos and the same old tired Regressive claims. There is no real debate with J_B, he just cuts and pastes the videos and links from other people and ignores everything else.

 

I know I know, Regressive Corporate Tool. Blahblahblahblah.

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CAN WE PLEASE GET BACK TO BIG GOVERNMENT'S WAR ON SODIUM?!?! ITS TENTACLES IN EVERY ASPECT OF MY LIFE!!!!

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