Once again we are witnessing our elected officials, President included, playing the charade of a two-party system, wasting a great deal of time, and money (the average legislator earned $1,175 per day for each day they actually worked in 2012) and the results they have to show for it are minimal at best as the 112th Congress accomplished the least of any in the history of our nation.It might be noted, however, despite this fact the President just gave each member a $900 raise in pay, bringing their already bloated salaries to $174,900 (not including a few others such as Speaker of the House who make more). He did this in the stealth of an Executive Order. So much for Obama wanting a more transparent government.
This may, or may not have been a part of the "fiscal cliff' fiasco going on presently. Typically it is Congress that approves their own raises, but I imagine they find that somewhat difficult in a time they are planning once again on raiding the pocketbooks of the voting public so the President will placate them.
While the "negotiations' continue on cutting the deficit let us take a look at cuts that could be made, but has not even been considered.
Let's consider our government to be like one of the corporations who pay heavily to lobbyists and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), who in turn pay these legislators dearly for their vote. First, they would look at what areas could absorb a cut and yet still function on a positive level.
The area of defense typically cannot account for 15-20% of their expenditures. What can't be accounted for must not have been necessary for the overall functioning of that department.
In January 2010, Carl Conetta of the Commonwealth Institute's Project for Defense Alternatives wrote a paper titled "An Undisciplined Defense: Understanding the $2 Trillion Surge in US Defense Spending." ( http://www.comw.org/pda/fulltext/1001PDABR20.pdf ) Conetta looked at the doubling of U.S. military spending since 1998, and concluded that only about half of the increase was linked to the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq or to terrorism. Remarkably, this left over $1 trillion of extra U.S. military spending over the past 12 years unaccounted for -- not justified by any policy or strategy that U.S. political leaders have explained to the American public or to the rest of the world.
Equally disturbing, Conetta explained that the surge in military spending between 1999 and 2010 differed qualitatively from the 43 percent spending surge of the 1960s (Vietnam) and the 57 percent surge in the 1980s (Reagan) in that this was not just a peak in a fluctuating historical cycle but rather an unprecedented new baseline for U.S. military spending. From 1951 to 2002, U.S. military spending averaged $425 billion per year (in 2010 dollars) and never fluctuated more than 25 percent above or below that figure. Now it's 63 percent above it and rising, and the government has no plans to scale back to the "normal" level established during the previous 50 years of U.S. military dominance.
This dramatic increase in military spending contrasts sharply with what the taxpayers who are funding it say they want. A PIPA poll in 2005, when the US military budget was "only" $521 billion per year, found that the average American would choose to cut it by $163 billion. This would have brought the total military budget down to $358 billion, close to the 1998 level when adjusted for inflation, and well within the previous "normal" range. ( http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/DefenseSpending/FedBudget_Mar05/FedBud... ) But of course, that's not what happened. Instead, military spending grew another 35 percent over the next 5 years to give the public double the military budget it said it wanted.
Conetta explained the spending splurge in terms of the conflicting dividends of the end of the Cold War: the peace dividend and the power dividend. Even as bases were closed and the numbers of personnel in the U.S. armed forces were reduced in the 1990s, U.S. leaders were at the same time determined to capitalize on the collapse of the U.S.S.R. to expand American power around the world. As we now know, our leaders squandered the peace dividend and their pursuit of the power dividend led us into unwinnable wars and unsustainable hostile military occupations, but the disastrous results of their megalomania have yet to lead to a more rational policy or a genuine recommitment to peace.
Other factors driving the "splurge" were the desire to obtain new weapons and technology without giving up "legacy" systems from the Cold War; and underlying confusion regarding overall U.S. goals and global resistance to them. These factors combined to result in "cover your ass" planning for virtually unlimited contingencies.
Why should taxpayers have to continue this malfeasance while watching their social safety net being raped once again? Why not cut where it has proven to be wasted? A cut of 15% in this area alone along with increases in taxes to the wealthiest among us may well get the deficit under control.
While we are on the subject of malfeasance one must be reminded of the $16 Trillion bailout distributed by the Federal Reserve (The "FED") which comes at an expense the taxpayers must pay, but did not authorized by Congress.
According to the GAO audit, $16.1 trillion in secret loans were made by the Federal Reserve between December 1, 2007 and July 21, 2010. The following list of firms and the amount of money that they received was taken directly from page 131 of the GAO audit report".
Citigroup -- $2.513 trillion
Morgan Stanley -- $2.041 trillion
Merrill Lynch -- $1.949 trillion
Bank of America -- $1.344 trillion
Barclays PLC -- $868 billion
Bear Sterns -- $853 billion
Goldman Sachs -- $814 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland -- $541 billion
JP Morgan Chase -- $391 billion
Deutsche Bank -- $354 billion
UBS -- $287 billion
Credit Suisse -- $262 billion
Lehman Brothers -- $183 billion
Bank of Scotland -- $181 billion
BNP Paribas -- $175 billion
Wells Fargo -- $159 billion
Dexia -- $159 billion
Wachovia -- $142 billion
Dresdner Bank -- $135 billion
Societe Generale -- $124 billion
"All Other Borrowers" -- $2.639 trillion
This report was made available to all the members of Congress, but most of them have been totally silent about it. One of the only members of Congress that has said something has been U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.
The Federal Reserve is an out of control monster that is throwing around trillions of dollars whenever it wants to. Nobody should be allowed to do this. Nobody should be allowed to give bailouts to banks and corporations without the express permission of the U.S. Congress and the president of the United States.