Where are our Budget Priorities?

If you’ve been following the federal budget process at all — and who doesn’t, with bated breath? — you know that the Republican House and Senate have recently passed budget bills that intended, at least ostensibly, to balance the budget by shrinking projected federal deficits by more than $5 trillion over the coming decade. Of course, that would be done on the backs of the poor and the elderly.  Among other things, the budget would:

  • Spend $640 billion on the military, a 4.5% increase over last year
  • Cut $4.3 trillion from benefit programs over the next 10 years, including $431 billion from Medicare
  • Cut funding for the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare)
  • Cut $759 billion from other non-defense agencies.

Robert Reich recently authored a Facebook Post in which he said, inter alia:reich priorities

The Senate budget contains over $1 trillion of tax cuts but doesn’t specify where the cuts will come from. To find that out, you need to examine the House budget, which contains about $1.3 trillion in tax cuts, mostly benefiting the wealthiest Americans. The House budget would:

1. Repeal the Affordable Care Act’s tax increases, including a 3.8% Medicare surtax on unearned income of the wealthy and the 0.9% Medicare surtax on high wage and salary income. The revenue loss would be about $1 trillion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

2. Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax, which ensures that higher income people pay at least some base level of tax. The revenue loss would be $330 billion, according to the Tax Policy Center, with 90% of the benefits going to the top 5% of households.

These repeals would cut taxes by an average of roughly $50,000 a year for people with incomes exceeding $1 million; by less than $10 on average for those making between $50,000 to $75,000; and by nothing for those earning less than $50,000, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

These tax cuts on the rich would be matched by spending cuts, mostly on programs for the poor, such as food stamps, housing, education, and student aid. With inequality reaching levels not seen since the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, what can these Republicans be thinking?

And it really is nuts. As the graphics below demonstrate, an extraordinary amount of our spending goes to national defense.

2015 discretionary spending xAnd, as is well known in certain circles, we spend more on our military than the next thirteen countries combined, including China and Russia. But still, it’s not enough.

The first energy crisis was at the end of  the Carter administration, back in 1979, after the Iranian revolution. I’ve theorized that if we had taken 10% of the money we spend on the military since then and invested it directly into alternative energy, this country would be energy independent by now, and we wouldn’t have to fuck around in Iran and Iraq, or Afghanistan, and bow to the Saudi Kings, and generally screw things up in the Middle East. It should be clear by now that we have absolutely no business being there. We don’t understand the region. We’re not helping. All we’re doing is galvanizing the terrorists, th2015 military spendinge barbarians who want to create a new “caliphate,” even though caliphates went out of style in the Middle Ages. And energy independence would keep us from having to go there.

About a1skeptic

A disturbed citizen and skeptic. I should stop reading the newspaper. Or watching TV. I should turn off NPR and disconnect from the Internet. We’d all be better off.
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