NoWars by blog.pennlive.com
President Obama, in the current illogical, irrational budget deficit talks, has clearly stated that "everything must be on the table." That's a typical Washingtonian utterance of no real meaning. Mr. President: how can you say that everything is on the table when the obscene, bloated Defense Department budget remains sacred and untouchable? You put Social Security and Medicare on your table but are totally ignoring the one area of spending that represents the greatest potential for reductions. We don't need an empire to protect us.
Things in America are getting more and more bizarre, very difficult to comprehend. This debate could be likened to a massive cockfight, a bloody fight to the finish, while at the same time, this nation is threatened with an impending financial meltdown. What is going on is simply outrageous. We have these supposed representatives of the people, from both sides of the aisle, debating about cuts in spending and the matter of America's monumental defense budget is completely absent from the discussions.
And in the middle of those negotiations what has happened in the Congress? It's been reported that the House overwhelmingly approved a $649 billion defense spending appropriation that not only fails to include any reductions, but actually increases the Pentagon budget by $17 billion. By now most Americans have become aware that, when all the many other defense spending areas are added to this base budget, the total for defense comes to $1.3 trillion annually.
What is going on boggles the mind. The need to reduce this defense budget is never seriously debated in this Congress, by this White House, by neither liberal nor conservative radio and TV hosts, or in the newspapers. It is not open to discussion, it has been declared off limits and that apparently is o.k. with the American people as they seem to be totally unconcerned that over 50% of their taxpayer dollars are going into defense and national security. All I hear out there is a complete silence with no real voices of opposition.
But what a surprise! As I was finishing this article I happened upon this July 10 article by Steve Chapman entitled, "Defense Cuts?" which fits right in with the premise of this article. How very refreshing to see even one respected journalist point out that defense is an area of great potential reductions; as he says, " But we keep chasing the dream of absolute security, which requires an unending succession of wars in faraway countries that pose little or no danger to us. That's what justifies the immense military budget, an indulgence disguised as a necessity." He couldn't have said it any better, but how many Americans are even listening?
This country is heading straight into an economic catastrophe if we do not stop what we're doing, i.e., continuing to expand the military empire and fighting wars around the world. Has this nation, its government and the people been possessed by the Gods of War? Is war embedded in our national psyche? Or is it that this nation and the American people have now become completely paranoid about the terrorists that seemingly are hiding behind every rock?
By now, isn't everyone sick and tired of having their hard-earned tax dollars being sucked into the black hole of war? Where is the rage, where is the outrage? America is starting to look like a nation in which too many people have allowed themselves to be programmed into a state of paranoia whenever they hear the code words of "terrorists", "Taliban", "insurgents" or the "war on terror." That's what's called mind conditioning. It apparently has been very successful because it has made this nation's military budget nearly equal to that of all the other nations of the world combined.
Talk about the need for logical and rational thinking, here is what the president should do if he were really interested in what is in the best interests of America, rather than his own political future. He should take all the entitlements, essential programs that are not contributing factors to the current deficit, off the table and declare them sacred and untouchable. Then he should put the defense budget on the table.
There is no need to radically reduce the funding for defense; all that needs to be done is to review the myriad of areas that could be significantly scaled back, and reduce those no longer necessary. That would still leave this nation with the most effective national security system in the world. That's the kind of leadership that America expects from its president. Sure, if he made such a tradeoff he would be attacked from all sides by those who will not accept any cuts to defense. But this act of presidential courage would show the people that he is fighting for them and he would gain more of their support.
And that support is critical; as his administration gears up for the 2012 elections it needs to carefully gauge the mood of his support groups. He currently has Democrats from every sector of the party extremely angry and upset after they learned that he was offering serious cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as a part of a "grand bargain" with the Republicans.
If he continues in that direction the American people will consider it to be a betrayal of their interests and he will find that he can kiss his second term goodbye. As numerous progressive writers are warning, it's not that many of his now disillusioned supporters will vote Republican but, rather, that they will simply sit out the election.
Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, who is, in my opinion, is the best, the most honest and most patriotic senator in Congress, has clearly indicated that if the president dares to offer up cuts to these major entitlements, he will not support him and he will, in fact, filibuster any legislation that includes them. How wonderful would that be? An Independent senator turning the tables on the Republicans by using their favorite tool of obstruction against them; and also against this president if he will not honor the views of the vast majority of Americans.
For those who consider my criticisms of Mr. Obama to be too harsh because he still may alter his position on these entitlements and that he will not, once again, cave in to Republicans, here's my reply. The biggest mistake he is making is that, given the massive opposition that he is getting from the GOP, he is not taking his case directly to the American people. They are getting more and more confused and frustrated by his failure to connect with them.
I'm talking about the fact that he is not using the presidential "bully pulpit" that U.S. presidents such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson used so successfully in the past; they used it very extensively to clearly communicate their policies and strategies to the American people to get their support; and it worked. President Obama should have been using this great communication tool consistently since he took office and, most certainly, should be using it in this current crisis.
He should be telling the American people that he will protect these important entitlements and that he will stand his ground. If he had called on them to personally support him in the effort weeks or months ago, how very different this situation would be. Poll after poll would indicate that the vast majority of the people overwhelmingly supported him; the national media would have no choice but to give it great coverage and the Republican Party would be on the run.
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