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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/9/09

The Coming U.S. Budget Attack

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Message shamus cooke
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The United States is moving backwards fast. State budget cuts are decimating essential health and social services; public education is being destroyed; the social safety net is in tatters. To make matters worse, all of this is occurring when the loss of jobs stands at a twenty-six year high with no end in sight.

But this is only phase one. The federal government intends to balance its books too, at the expense of society's neediest. Instead of governors presiding over painful cuts, the President will be doing the gutting. And although his proposed budget isn't due until February, the President's spokespeople are priming the media to play a major propaganda role in what will be a colossal blow against working and poor people.

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Obama's Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, has been particularly busy promoting the future cutbacks, repeating that "the country must live within its mean;" "deficits must be brought down dramatically" — something that will "require very hard choices."

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What are these hard choices? One possible option is no longer available. The biggest annual deficit producer is the U.S. military, which Obama will not radically reduce. Instead, he will increase it; Taxpayers will pay $660 billion (!) in 2010 toward the military. And maybe more — military commanders see more fighting in the future, not less; consequently, they want more money. The New York Times reports:

"Admiral. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not say how much additional money would be needed, but one figure in circulation within the Pentagon and among outside defense budget analysts is $50 billion." (November 4, 2009).

Senate Democrat John Murtha thinks only $40 billion extra will do the trick, making the military budget an even $700 billion for 2010.

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A different "hard choice" that could fix the deficit is to drastically raise taxes on the very wealthy. To this end, Obama has made the wholly-inadequate pledge to "roll back the Bush tax cuts." Taxing the super-rich an extra 4 percent isn't going to do the trick; not even close. At bare minimum, their taxes should be raised an additional 35 percent, to the pre-Regan level. But Obama would never propose such an idea.

The solutions Obama has proposed are the ones that Geithner is actually referring to when he says "very hard choices." Last January, Obama told the conservative Washington Post that, to lower deficits, he would "reform entitlement programs" — social security, Medicare, etc. Reform in this case means to eliminate, or drastically reduce. The Washington Post reports:

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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker and activist living in Portland Oregon.
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