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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 7/30/10

Republican Awareness : Bankrupting America

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To assure fear in the public consciousness, The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld administration allows immunity from prosecution by anyone doing their job. The PA-II provides immunity from liability to law enforcement engaging in spying operations against the American people. It also provides a defense for federal agents who engage unauthorized searches and surveillance relating to foreign intelligence when they are acting "pursuant to a lawfulauthorization from the President or the Attorney General." Not only are government employees free to expose all your tightly held secrets, but it eliminates civil liability for businesses and employees that report "suspected terrorists" to the federal government, no matter how malicious or unfounded the tip may be.

Not only are the rights granted by the 4th Amendment suspended, but the 1st amendment rights for Free Speech are also being reduced. Protesting with groups which the government has declared terrorist will get you deported and your citizenship revoked. A U.S. citizen may be expatriated if he becomes a member of, or provides material support to a group that the United Stated has designated as a 'terrorist organization'. The Supreme Court even forbids giving advice to a member of these groups, even if it is advice unrelated to terror activities.

In order to bankrupt the nation, Bush-43 also expanded the Secretary of the Treasury's authority to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities. This in itself seems like no big deal, but consider how Bush handled the financial crisis caused by the policies and expenditures under his direction. Bush initiated financial bailouts to support financial institutions and the owners of such institutions after their corrupt policies would have led to their demise in a "Free Economy" (without the invisible hand of government). This set up a wave of bank takeovers, with one institution buying another with TARP money; eliminating fair competition and establishing a climate of To Big To Fail operations. President Bush signed the bill into law within hours of its congressional enactment, creating a $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to purchase failing bank assets. Beyond TARP, another $4T has been spent since 2008 in shoring up the financial sector, stimulating the economy with first-time home buyers incentives, Cash-for-Clunkers, and bailouts to industries which should have been left to fail. Although Obama authorized these programs, they were necessary by the previous administrations poor regulatory and financial oversight.

Efforts to reform the industry, so as to prevent further financial disasters were drawn up with little real change to the policies. Congress members, heavily supported by the campaign contributions from the financial institutions and their lobbyist, have watered down (at the insistence of Republican members) any effort to reform financial policies which could prevent future bank failures. Banks are left to continue doing what it was that created the economic recession (depression) with out oversight. Republicans who endorsed bailouts ( in 2008) with zero accountability and without transparency were Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Christopher Cox, and congressional leaders like John McCain, and President George W. Bush. These individuals claim immunity to any prosecution which may result from future investigations into any wrongdoing. Round and round the money goes, and where it currently is, is nobody's business, and nobody need to tell. Can a country remain sovereign without controlling it's financial policies ?

But it isn't just sending money into the financial institution black-hole without accountability that bankrupts a society, it is also the way it spends what it has, or borrows. An increase in the Military size creates a big drain on the economy. Currently (as of January 2010) the military has 1,445,000 active duty personnel with an additional 850,000 reserves, many of whom are in active combat. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in 2009, proposed increasing the Army by 22,000 more troops. (In March of 2000, before Bush-43 decided that he needed an adrenaline rush. the total number of employees employed in National Defense and International Relations totaled 675,000.)

What that means is an increase in military spending which was $771Billion in 2009, ($280B in 2000). An additional $872.6B has been spent in the past 9 years for ongoing expenses in Iraq & Afghanistan. In 2010, 55% of the yearly discretionary budget will go to the military and it's operations. But the $600B projected by the Pentagon for 2010 is only part of the story. Associated costs will increase the budget to $1.44Trillion. To add insult to misguided foreign policy it has been reported by The Los Angeles Times (July 27, 2010) that the Defense Department cannot account for nearly all of Iraq's oil revenue from 2004 to 2007--$8.7 billion out of $9.1 billion. For $2.6 billion of the missing money, there is no record at all. The rest was not deposited in special accounts, as the Treasury Department requires, making it near-impossible to trace. The news isn't likely to sit well with Iraqis, who are still angry over the $8.8 billion in oil revenues the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority spent in 2003 and 2004. I suggest they look in the pockets of special interests, military weapons manufacturers, war profiteers and Congressional campaign funds.

These reported expenses admitted by the Department of Defense & the Pentagon are only the tip of the bucket when it comes to hiding the true cost of war. Hidden from the Pentagon's budget are Veteran's benefits exceeding $91Billion, hidden in the Treasury's budget are military pensions, around $48Billion.The Department of Energy is hiding $18Billion in their budget for nuclear weapons development programs. The State Department hides $38Billion financing foreign arms sales. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced interest due, amounting to $350Billion hidden away in the Financial Sectors. The GAO looked into major defense projects in 2008 and found $296Billion in cost over-runs.

The Pentagon budget also hides the expense of 16-spy agencies, amounting to $49.8Billion in 2009. We currently have 138,000 private contractors and mercenaries in Afghanistan fighting with and supporting 89,000 military personnel. Since these private contractors are not part of the military, their costs are hidden somewhere, maybe in the budget of the Department of Nowhere.

Claiming to be responsible conservatives, Neocons, Conservatives, Tea Party members and Libertarians all scream for a smaller government, while at the same time they have supported the growth of government. In 2000, the number of federal government employees totaled 2,899,363. After the 8-years of Bush-43 policies, the number reduced to 2,768,866. But these figures do not include the Department of Homeland Security which employ 180,244 at last count. So there actually was growth in government. These figures do not represent military, private contractors, the FBI or the CIA. All together the number of government employees reached 16.6Million in 2008. The fact is clear that when Bush-43 took office in 2000 the National Debt consisted in a $230Billion surplus. When Bush left office the debt amounted to over $12Trillion, causing Congress to raise the ceiling on the National Debt to over $13Trillion. Consider the fact that a large amount of the deficit is a direct consequence of war, where taxpayers pay for weapons and munitions which blow up and disappear, with no return on the investment.

Of course the biggest ongoing expense bankrupting America is the cost of ongoing wars. Iraq has cost us $733Billion so far with the expectation that our final cost will exceed $2Trillion. Afghanistan costs exceed $290Billion with the expectation of going over $1Trillion before we leave. No-bid contracts, costs over-runs, misappropriations, paying for protection, graft & greed and rebuilding the infrastructure we destroyed are figures that the Department of Justice and the White House don't want us to know, so they have issued gagging orders which prevent investigation.

Living on borrowed money is the same as living on borrowed time.

Calling the country a Democracy in name only, Republicans wish to hide the facts that America is not a Democracy, but rather a Republic, ruled by members Congress who are elected to represent the population, but ultimately they represent special interest, including their own. Even though there are no specific, universally accepted definitions of democracy, there are two principles that defines the word "democracy"; Equality & Freedom. These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to power and the freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution and within the Bill of Rights. Many of these have been suspended by Republican Administrations and Democratic Administrations catering to Republican members of Congress, which has held the Congressional majority for from 1994 through 2008.

At issue here is not only the bankrupting of America, but the demise of democracy as well.



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