Thursday, February 4, 2010

Military Spending Tsunami Threatens Social Programs

Let's discuss this, says the Left

In "No Defense for This Budget" Nation editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel criticizes President Obama's proposal to impose a freeze on all federal discretionary spending except for core defense spending, which will be allowed to increase by two-plus percent. Specific spending for war in Afghanistan and Iraq will increase even more.

"Exempting all security-related expenditures from common sense cuts will have serious consequences for almost everything the government does--from job creation, poverty reduction and alternative energy development, to aid for cash-strapped state and local governments," Vanden Heuvel wrote. Since the freeze in all other discretionary spending means actual cuts in social programs, Obama's proposal means less funding will be available to address the social needs exacerbated by The Great Recession.

In January, Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.) wrote a piece that the rising federal deficit means that the U.S. cannot consistently fund social services without cutting the defense budget by 25 percent. That piece also ran in the Nation and can be found here.

Given the name-calling, general dissing and overall disrespect that characterizes a third to a half of the comments responding to Vanden Heuvel's piece, it is probably a very good thing that there is no comment chain following Frank's article; that chain would have been longer and much more vituperative. Frank, after all, is not only a New England liberal, he is also openly gay. The virtual venom coming from the libertarians. conservatives and troglodytes who police the Nation's website would probably have turned the magazine's server into a quivering shadow of its former self. But the thing is, Frank is calling for a large cut that would be phased in over time. Enough time to create good new jobs for workers who lose there's when weapons plants get shuttered.

Nor is Vanden Heuvel a raving left-winger. "Right now, for those who understand what's at stake with these budget priorities, it's high time to tell your legislators and the White House that if there is indeed going to be any freeze on spending, the exorbitant defense budget should be included in that," she concludes. That's pretty mild stuff in a country driving tanks toward bankruptcy.

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