[Marxism] War Sec Panetta, speaking for Obama, demands cuts in SS, medicare -- not military

Fred Feldman ffeldman at verizon.net
Fri Aug 5 11:32:02 MDT 2011

Friday, Aug 5, 2011 06:06 ET
Glenn Greenwald The administration's stated budget priorities
By Glenn Greenwald

The theory of Round II of the debt deal is that both parties will be 
motivated to reach an agreement in the "Super-Committee" on how to 
reduce the debt by another $1.5 trillion because, if they fail to agree, 
there will be automatic cuts that are horrendous to each party: 
draconian domestic cuts will scare Democrats into compromising, while 
supposedly substantial reductions in military spending will frighten the 
GOP. But a serious and quite predictable deviation from that scheme has 
already emerged: epublicans (at least its Tea Party faction) don't seem 
bothered at all by the prospects of military cuts, while Democrats -- 
specifically the Obama administration -- are acting as if such cuts, 
literally, would be nation-threatening.

Yesterday, President Obama's Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, donned his 
Dr. Strangelove hat and decried these prospective cuts as a "doomsday 
mechanism" -- doomsday! -- warning that these would be "very dangerous 
cuts" that "would do real damage to our security, our troops and their 
families, and our military's ability to protect the nation." Then, this 
morning, we have this from The Washington Post:

Continue reading

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Thursday of dire consequences if 
the Pentagon is forced to make cuts to its budget beyond the $400 
billion in savings planned for the next decade.

Senior Pentagon officials have launched an offensive over the past two 
days to convince lawmakers that further reductions in Pentagon spending 
would imperil the country’s security. Instead of slashing defense, 
Panetta said, the bipartisan panel should rely on tax increases and cuts 
to nondiscretionary spending, such as Medicare and Social Security, to 
provide the necessary savings.

Just think about that for a minute. We have a Democratic administration 
installed in power after millions of liberals donated large amounts of 
their time and money to help elect them. Yet here we have a top official 
in the President's cabinet demanding cuts to Medicare and Social 
Security in order to protect the military budget from further 
reductions. That's the position of the Democratic administration. While 
it's true that Pentagon officials reflexively protect the Pentagon 
budget, there is zero question that Panetta -- the career-long supremely 
loyal Democratic Party functionary -- is speaking here on behalf of and 
with the authorization of the White House; indeed, he said exactly that 
in the written message he sent about these cuts to the Pentagon's staff 
("this outcome would be completely unacceptable to me as Secretary of 
Defense, the President, and to our nation’s leaders").

For all the boastful claims from Panetta and others about how much the 
Pentagon budget was just cut by the first round of the debt deal, the 
reality, as McClatchy detailed yesterday, is much different: "The new 
deficit-cutting law appears to reduce defense spending by $350 billion 
up front and perhaps by as much as $850 billion over 10 years, but in 
fact that's highly unlikely to happen." That's because defense hawks 
ensured that these initial cuts would be applied not only to "defense" 
but also "security" spending, which encompasses programs "such as 
homeland security, border enforcement, foreign aid and even veterans' 
benefits as potential targets." Moreover, as Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin 
explained on Tuesday night on Rachel Maddow's program, the magnitude of 
this first round of cuts as well as the potential series of automatic 
cuts in the second round is wildly overstated by administration 
officials given budgetary gimmicks in how these numbers are derived.

President Obama yesterday instructed his supporters on how to advocate 
for his re-election, and told them that when they go forth to evangelize 
about his accomplishments -- as Steve Benen did yesterday with his 
celebration of Obama as "the most effective politician since Reagan, and 
depending on the day, perhaps even the most effective politician since 
LBJ" -- that they should "not to get too bogged down in detail" but 
instead should emphasize broad themes and values. As one example of how 
this avoid-the-details advocacy should work, Obama instructed: "If 
somebody asks about the war, whether it’s Iraq or Afghanistan — if it’s 
Iraq, you have a pretty simple answer, which is all our folks are going 
to be out of there by the end of the year." Except that appears to be 
completely untrue, as his administration appears on the verge of 
succeeding in its many months of efforts to pressure the Iraqi 
Government to allow U.S. troops to remain in that country well past the 
2011 withdrawal deadline Obama repeatedly vowed to enforce (and that's 
beyond the oversight-free private army which the State Department has 
long planned to keep in Iraq).

As the U.S. continues to spend almost more than the rest of the world 
combined on its military while it wages and escalates war in multiple 
Muslim countries around the world -- to say nothing of the dozens of 
nations in which it continuously engages in lower-level covert military 
action -- the very idea that American security would be gravely 
jeopardized by these cuts is absurd on its face. If anything, American 
security is far more endangered by continuing on this path of unbridled 
militarism and aggression. Yet here we have the bizarre spectacle of a 
Democratic administration demanding cuts to Social Security and Medicare 
in order to protect the defense industry from cuts that are, in any 
event, far less meaningful than are being depicted. Given how public 
they're being with these statements, does anyone have any remaining 
doubt about the constituencies to which they're actually loyal?

* * * * *

There are reports this morning that a NATO airstrike killed (another) 
one of Gadaffi's sons in Libya, so we'll be able to have some collective 
celebration to keep our minds off little things like the collapsing 
economy. It is telling indeed how virtually all political good news -- 
all national celebrations -- now involve America's ability to kill the 
latest Bad Guy. One benefit of Endless War is that it distracts the 
citizens' attention away from what is being done to them at home and 
makes them cheer for the leaders who are doing it to them.

UPDATE: Lsat week, Joe Lieberman said we must cut entitlement programs 
in order to "have the national defense we need to protect us in a 
dangerous world while we're at war with Islamist extremists who attacked 
us on 9/11 and will be for a long time to come." About that, Joan 
McCarter wrote: "since the Super Congress has been created specifically 
to pit defense and safety net programs against each other, don't be 
surprised if you see this one getting traction" (h/t sysprog) That is 
exactly the purpose of the "triggers" and the Super Committee; it is not 
hard to guess who will prevail in the war between entitlement programs 
and military spending; and Panetta's statements are little more than a 
push to ensure the right outcome.

More information about the Marxism mailing list