Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 12 (12 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Article Stats   9 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

Afghan Escalation Would Make One-Year Pentagon Budget Almost As Big as Entire 10-Year Health Bill

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Valuable 2   Must Read 1   Well Said 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to None 11/16/09

Become a Fan
  (6 fans)

In pitting the 10-year cost of Democrats' health care bill against the 10-year projected cost of the bloated Pentagon budget, my newspaper column last week made a simple comparison rarely ever made in politics today - a comparison that might provide citizens with much needed context, but a comparison that is ignored.

Is the comparison's omission deliberate? It's hard to say, but when you read this typical New York Times piece, it's hard to argue that it isn't being irresponsibly ignored:

While President Obama's decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan is primarily a military one, it also has substantial budget implications that are adding pressure to limit the commitment, senior administration officials say...

Even if fewer troops are sent, or their mission is modified, the rough formula used by the White House, of about $1 million per soldier a year, appears almost constant.

So even if Mr. Obama opts for a lower troop commitment, Afghanistan's new costs could wash out the projected $26 billion expected to be saved in 2010 from withdrawing troops from Iraq. And the overall military budget could rise to as much as $734 billion, or 10 percent more than the peak of $667 billion under the Bush administration.

Kudos, of course, to the Times for even reporting on the unfathomably large costs of intensifying militarism and adventurism. But as you'll see in the story, there's no attempt to put the costs into any context - specifically, there's no mention that an escalation in Afghanistan would mean outlays for the one-year Pentagon budget is approaching the total outlays of the entire 10-year health care bill.

Of course, the Times does offer up one fleeting contextual message indicating that increased defense spending from an Afghanistan escalation "would be a politically volatile issue for Mr. Obama at a time when the government budget deficit is soaring, the economy is weak and he is trying to pass a costly health care plan." But even that brief mention is dishonest.

On what basis does the Times call the health care plan "costly?" As I said in my column, while the Congressional Budget Office (ie. the nonpartisan institution that reporters/politicians use to price bills) says the health legislation would mandate about $890 billion, CBO also makes painfully clear its tax and budget-cutting provisions would recover a net of $109 billion over 10 years, meaning the bill is as "costly" to the public treasury as the purchase of a stock that produces a net 10% return on investment. I mean, seriously - if you invested $1,000 into a stock and got $1,100 back, would you lament to a friend about how "costly" the investment was to your bank account? No - because your friend would look at you like you were insane.

Indeed, only in Washington is a big return on taxpayer investment and a $109 billion reduction in the deficit an example of something that's "costly" to taxpayers - and only in a quickly deteriorating American media would defense spending be reported with almost zero context.

 


David Sirota is a full-time political journalist, best-selling author and
nationally syndicated newspaper columnist living in Denver, Colorado. He blogs for Working Assets and the Denver Post's PoliticsWest website. He is a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, which in 2006 received the Utne Independent Press Award for political coverage. His 2006 book, Hostile Takeover, was a New York Times bestseller, and is now out in paperback. He has been a guest on, among others, CNN, (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Tax the Corporations and the Rich or Take Draconian Cuts -- the Decision Is Ours

Bush Used the IRS, FBI, CIA and Secret Service to Go After Opponents -- Where Was the Fox and GOP Outrage?

GOP: Recession's Foreclosure Victims "Want a Homeless Life"

Busting myths that FDR prolonged Great Depression

Pentagon & NSA officials say they want Snowden extrajudicially assassinated

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
7 people are discussing this page, with 9 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

While I agree with you that we should be pulling o... by Scott Baker on Monday, Nov 16, 2009 at 3:22:51 PM
Conservatives' selective concern about deficit spe... by Don Smith on Monday, Nov 16, 2009 at 4:29:40 PM
War in Iraq should not have been in the first plac... by steve scheetz on Monday, Nov 16, 2009 at 5:38:01 PM
Republicans ruined the economy, cut taxes for the ... by Don Smith on Monday, Nov 16, 2009 at 9:35:27 PM
See, this is a fallacy.... Cutting taxes does not ... by steve scheetz on Monday, Nov 16, 2009 at 10:01:04 PM
you have destroyed cars and are in debt. Worse sti... by Margaret Bassett on Monday, Nov 16, 2009 at 6:07:17 PM
We can't stop the Corporate and elite Pigs at the ... by August Adams on Monday, Nov 16, 2009 at 7:42:15 PM
by the Fort hood shooting you can guarantee that t... by Starla Immak on Tuesday, Nov 17, 2009 at 10:02:36 AM
Sheetz said, "The rich, who you deride for receivi... by shirley reese on Thursday, Nov 19, 2009 at 10:06:44 AM