Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Fictional Budget Showdown Preserves Untouchable Military Budget

The talk in Washington for the last week has been on the looming budget deadline, and the possibility of a government shutdown.  Republicans assert that they are interested only in cutting spending and reigning in the deficit, and Democrats are portrayed, as usual, as the reckless big spenders.  It is important to note that there are elements within the United States who actually favor a government shutdown:  Teabaggers, and adherents to a political philosophy termed “Starve the Beast” by Paul Krugman.  Still, it is doubtful the government will be entirely shutdown as a result of the pseudo-clash we are now observing.

Simply put, what we are witnessing now is pure theater, but the truly pathetic aspect is that so many Americans are buying it.  Republicans are portrayed as the heroes of working Americans, as they struggle to slash government spending and thus reduce taxes for the little guy.  Although specifics are almost never discussed, Democrats are seen as the enemy of the common man, interested in raising taxes to pay for such trivialities as environmental regulation and *gasp* abortions.  Sadly, I’m not kidding:

Republicans want deeper spending cuts than the Democrats favor and also are pressing for provisions to cut off federal funds to Planned Parenthood and stop the EPA from issuing numerous anti-pollution regulations. …

[Reid] accused Republicans of blocking a deal by demanding anti-abortion provisions and a blockade on Environmental Protection Agency regulations on greenhouse gas and other pollutants.

Preposterous, right?  But look how our president, the progressive hero, responded:

“They’re difficult issues. They’re important to both sides and so I’m not yet prepared to express wild optimism,” said the president.

Difficult issues?  WTF?  Deciding whether or not we should protect the environment and try to stem the progression of climate change are “difficult issues”?  As if there is really a choice in the matter?  And is the $1 billion budget (not all Federal money, of course) for Planned Parenthood, providing advice and services to sexually active teens and young adults, really such a decisive issue?  What about the $8.5 billion in taxes that Exxon Mobile fails to pay each and every year?  But I suppose the real issues here are with the Right’s perceived notion of what government is supposed to do:  Government exists to protect and enhance the wealth of the wealthy, and any sort of service for ordinary, working class Americans is pure sacrilege.

And as usual, no one addresses the elephant in the room, the Goliath of all government spending that is our military budget.  In fact, this is where the true priorities of both parties shine through bright and clear:

But agreement remained elusive, and Republicans passed legislation through the House at mid-day to fund the Pentagon for six months, cut $12 billion in domestic spending and keep the federal bureaucracy humming for an additional week. “There is absolutely no policy reason for the Senate to not follow the House in taking these responsible steps to support our troops and to keep our government open,” said Boehner. …

In a shift in position, Obama said he would sign a short-term measure keeping the government running even without an agreement to give negotiations more time to succeed.

So there you have it:  slash domestic spending, but keep that military machine of American Empire humming.  Even though U.S. military spending accounts for 43% of all international expenditures — compared to a paltry 6% for the number two country, China — the military budget is somehow sacred, and the possibility of reducing it in any meaningful way is never even mentioned.  And notice how Obama, the liberal champion, agrees to sign on without condition.

Anyone can see how ludicrous this situation truly is, and any elected official who fails to point this out, or who publicly takes sides in this fictional confrontation, can immediately be discounted as a corporate shill.  These are tough times for ordinary Americans, and the business-as-usual politics of our plutocracy cannot stand.  If we are to reclaim our democracy, we have to stop wasting our support on spineless corporate puppets, and choose those politicians who honestly and actively share our values.  With a few notable exceptions (i.e. Kucinich), this means boycotting the one-party RepubliDems.

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