Entitlements, Not Defense, Are Busting the Budget

December 23rd, 2009 at 9:03 am | 43 Comments |

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Lefty blogger Matthew Yglesias has a new post calling for “offsetting decreases in baseline defense spending” to pay for the war in Afghanistan. He touts a study by the left-wing Center for American Progress which argues for $40 billion in defense modernization cuts.

“We do live in a world of limited resources,” Yglesias laments,

and it doesn’t make sense to build every weapons platform that it might be nice to have, or to engage costly and lengthy efforts to stabilize every nation that it might be nice to stabilize. The country’s not going to get out of its long-term fiscal jam until we stop pretending that magical ‘war bonds,’ rather than real resources, pay for these military commitments.

Yes, indeed, let’s stop pretending. Let’s stop pretending that U.S. defense spending is exorbitant or unsustainable — and let’s especially stop pretending that spending on weapons systems is wasteful, unnecessary, redundant, or somehow busting the federal budget.

Yglesias and the Center for American Progress identify $40 billion in cuts to offset the estimated $30 billion that it will cost for the Afghan troop surge. In absolute dollar terms, $30 billion, or $40 billion, is certainly a lot of money; but in relative terms, it doesn’t amount to much.

The $30 billion “amounts to roughly 0.2 percent of the estimated size of the economy in 2010,” reports Heritage Foundation analyst Baker Spring. Heritage provides further context and perspective:

The $51 billion cost of the [Afghan] war in 2009 is just 1.4% of the $3.5 trillion spent by Washington that year and 2.8% of the $1.4 trillion budget deficit. Even though overall defense spending has grown 81% in real terms since 9/11, it is still responsible for less than 19% of all new spending over that period.

What’s more, the so-called stimulus package cost $787 billion. That’s 20 to 25 times as much as the defense cuts Yglesias champions. Why not, then, cut $40 billion in pork from the so-called stimulus package? Why force cuts on the defense budget? Why now after the Obama administration has just enacted the most significant weapons systems cuts in more than 30 years?

Obama’s cuts included cancelation of Future Combat Systems, elimination of eight new Army combat vehicles types, termination of the F-22 fighter jet, and abandonment of the Transformational Satellite program.

Defense spending, in fact, accounts for just 20 percent of the federal budget; and it consumes between four and five percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Under President Obama, moreover, defense spending is projected to decline to less than three percent of GDP — an historic low at a time of war. And an increasing share of the defense budget is being consumed by pay and benefits, especially healthcare, not weapon systems.

To be sure, America’s long-term fiscal jam is real and worsening — but not because of defense expenditures. The impending fiscal train wreck is attributable solely to runaway entitlement spending. Indeed, as Heritage points out:

The entire cost of military operations in Afghanistan in 2009 was less than the increase in Social Security spending, which grew by $66 billion over the course of the year — from $617 billion in 2008 to $683 billion in 2009. Medicare, Medicaid, and other entitlements are also growing faster than tax revenues at an unsustainable rate of around 8% per year.

One year of welfare under Obama eclipses [the] seven-year cost of [the] Iraq War: According to the Congressional Research Service, the cost of the Iraq war through the end of the Bush Administration was around $622 billion. By contrast, annual federal and state means-tested welfare spending will reach $888 billion in FY 2010. Federal welfare spending alone will equal $697 billion in that year.

The Obama administration’s answer to this problem is to make things worse, by enacting a costly new entitlement — healthcare “reform” — that will cost at least $1 trillion and perhaps as much as $4.9 trillion over 20 years.

Health spending and entitlements are the targets against which the fiscal hawks’ ire should be directed — not the defense budget, which is already low in historic terms and dangerously low vis-à-vis our international commitments and obligations.

Again, as Heritage observes:

Paying for World War II cost nearly half of the nation’s economy or gross domestic product (GDP). Fighting the Korean War consumed about 14% of GDP; and the Vietnam War cost about 9%.  By contrast, the portion of the defense budget that funds wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is just 1% of GDP in 2009.

President Obama calls Afghanistan and the larger war on terror a war of necessity. Yet his supporters begrudge spending even 1% of the GDP to fight this war – jealous of every nickel that they covet instead to expand the domestic welfare state.

But not only is this war cheap in relative terms — it’s too cheap. The Defense Department — and especially the ground forces (the Army and the Marine Corps), which are fighting this war — have been asked to do too much for too long with too little. That’s why we’ve had soldiers doing three or four deployments in five years; and that’s why we have soldiers riding in combat vehicles that were designed in the 1970s.

The reality is that America needs to significantly increase defense spending. We need a substantially larger Army and Marine Corps; and our troops require more modern gear and equipment.

Our troops are engaged, after all, in a 21st Century conflict; yet they are dependent, in large part, on antiquated weapons systems. The Cold War is over; and a new era of irregular asymmetric warfare has begun. Military modernization is long overdue and urgently needed — now.

You can argue over particular weapon systems, as I have here at FrumForum. For example, I am not entirely convinced that additional F-22 fighter jets would do our military much good. The F-22, after all, has not been used in either Iraq or Afghanistan; and a war with China is highly unlikely in my judgment.

In any case, the United States already has 187 F-22 Raptors. I’d much rather network our ground forces and give our soldiers and Marines a truly modernized, 21st Century ground combat vehicle. Still, the reality is that we don’t know exactly what the future holds. That’s why our military must be prepared to fight any and all potential adversaries.

Who, after all, predicted 9-11 and the war in Afghanistan? Certainly, not the U.S. military nor our intelligence agencies. Indeed, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. James Cartwright has observed that, prior to 9-11, not a single Pentagon war plan in the 1980s or ‘90s included Afghanistan as a potential area of operations for the U.S. military.

So while we certainly can argue about the utility of select weapons systems, the reality is that comprehensive military modernization is not a luxury; it is a necessity.

It is a necessity if America wishes to remain militarily dominant and able to effectively project military power abroad in all potential operational contingencies. And it is a necessity if we wish to keep our fighting men and women as safe and free from harm as is humanly possible.

In short, America needs to modernize its military; America can afford to modernize its military; and America must modernize its military — now.

It’s too bad Matthew Yglesias and the Democratic Left don’t understand this. After all, a Democratic president once famously said that, under his leadership, America would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

Today’s Democratic president says something quite different. Because of the “economic crisis,” he says, and because of “more fierce” “competition within the global economy,” “we simply can’t afford to ignore the price of these wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests,” he says.

But like it or not, policing the planet is America’s responsibility; and doing so is certainly within our national security interests and well within our (financial) means. The United States, after all, is a global power, with international reach and influence. And if we do not defeat the enemy abroad, then the enemy will come to our shores, as he did on 9-11. And that is a cost no American should have to bear.

Modernize the military — not because we want to, but because we have to. Now.

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43 Comments so far ↓

  • balconesfault

    Just so people understand … that spending on Medicare and Social Security is because for decades, America has specifically withdrawn money from people’s paychecks each week with the promise that the Government would be paying them money back and covering their medical expenses (as well as providing disability benefits should they be injured and unable to work, or survivor benefits to their dependents should they pass away and no longer be able to support them).

    In fact, during the 80′s, when Reagan cut taxes while jacking up defense spending, the only reason the federal deficit didn’t spin even further out of balance was because Uncle Sam went back to middle class taxpayers who make the majority of the contributions to Social Security and had us all bump up our contributions.

    If we wanted the military that Guardiano fetishes after, we should have been keeping tax rates much higher over the years to finance it, so that we wouldn’t have been having to borrow against that Social Security trust fund all those years to build more carriers and nukes and F-22′s.

  • teabag

    Actually what we object to is TWO wars being paid for Off budget and never being included in the deficit. We object to those wars being financed on the China credit card.

    I have never seen a supposedly fiscal conservative say that this was wrong. Or that taxes should have increased to pay for these wars. That is why you Mr Neocon John have no credibility at all.

  • teabag

    We also object to No Bid Contracts to groups like KBR and Halliburton. Who use the part of the cash not pocketed by the contractor to build crappy accommodation and shower blocks that electrocute our own soldiers!

    Conservative policy in action. Fraud on a huge sale to kill our own kids! Utterly shameful.

  • sinz54

    Guardiano: But like it not, policing the planet is America’s responsibility
    Conservatives NEVER used to believe that.

    During the Cold War, America answered the call to defend freedom in the face of Soviet imperialism, which began with their conquest of the Baltic states in the 1930s and continued through their invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s.

    But after the Cold War ended and the USSR fell apart, conservatives like me argued that the U.S. should avoid foreign entanglements where possible.

    We’re not at war against Islam. We’re at war against a collection of radical Islamist terrorist groups because they attacked us–not because it’s our responsibility to “police the planet.”

  • sinz54

    The underlying reason for this position paper is that Obama’s supporters have turned against him on his 30,000 troop surge in Afghanistan. And they’re trying to force him to choose between it and various undesirable alternatives.

    I used to read the left-wing blogs like HuffPo and TPMCafe during the 2008 campaign. At the time, these lefties were sure that Obama’s tough talk on Afghanistan was just a smokescreen designed to make him look less peacenik, given his dovishness on the Iraq War. And they were sure that once Obama got into office, he would follow the advice of Zinn and Chomsky and get America completely out of the world’s hair.

    But now it turns out that Obama meant what he said about Afghanistan–he’s determined to succeed there. And he escalated the U.S. effort.

    And his peacenik supporters are furious.

    Good.

  • MI-GOPer

    John G centers the target in the sights for all to see: “What’s more, the so-called stimulus package cost $787 billion. That’s 20 to 25 times as much as the defense cuts Yglesias champions. Why not, then, cut $40 billion in pork from the so-called stimulus package? Why force cuts on the defense budget? Why now after the Obama administration has just enacted the most significant weapons systems cuts in more than 30 years?”

    Answer: ’cause those are the democrats’ pork and they still think anything spent on the military, intelligence gathering, natl security, homeland security or border protection is wasteful. The Biden-Obama plan: let NATO do it; if that fails, let Europe do it; if that fails, ask Russia for help. Plan #2: divide Afghanistan into three parts… one for the corrupt Karzai-ACORN Lites, one for the Taliban, one for alQaeda.

    Modern democrats have never supported the military or a military mission since the party kicked out all the conservatives and replaced them with weasels like NancyBoTox and HarryGreed. The Podesta types will continue to scream: Cut the military; they aren’t us.

    Obama-Biden and the democrats are conscientious objectors in the War on Terror. After ending racism (sic) and securing a nuclear arms free world (sic) in 2009, Obama will get the Nobel Peace Prize next year for emasculating the War on Terror. It’s what democrats do when in power… that, and help our enemies get stronger.

    It’s why American voters now trust Repblicans to lead on all the national agenda items over the democrats –save education by a narrowing margin. Health care reform? Yep. Iraq? Yep. Natl Security? Yep. Taxes, economy, immigration reform, ethics? Yep; yep; yep and more yep.

    I’m not sure even a 2nd Nobel Peace Prize can save the democrats and Obama at this point. Our military will just have to suffer through the lean times and hope sanity returns to the American voter in 2010 and 2012.

  • John Guardiano

    Teabag,
    You’re a liar, and a purposeful liar at that. As I’ve told you previously, I am not now, nor have I ever been a lobbyist. I am, however, (among other things), a blogger and a journalist.

    A lobbyist is someone who lobbies Congress for the enactment or defeat of specific legislation. I don’t do that, nor have I ever done that.

    What I do do is write and publish about public-policy issues. No one pays me to do this. No company or corporation hires me to write on their behalf. But the publications for which I write do typically pay me; that is true. That’s called journalism, not lobbying.

    Why don’t you understand this — and why do you persist in spreading lies? Why can’t you engage in substantive dialogue and discussion? Why must you try to discredit your political and policy opponents based on who and what they might be prrofessionally?

    John

  • garlic

    John — thanks for the lobbyist rebuttal. Although past work on FCS does make you an interested party, just as my defense contractor employer makes me an interested party.

    I think the US budget is big enough and overspending enough that it’s a good idea to cut most areas total funding, including defense. I think reprioritizing defense dollars based on where we see future conflicts leading us makes a lot of sense — thus I agree with the F-22 cuts. While the US will probably still have to shoulder the costs for an ability to globally position our military, cutbacks still seem feasible.

  • sinz54

    garlic: I think reprioritizing defense dollars based on where we see future conflicts leading us makes a lot of sense — thus I agree with the F-22 cuts.
    The proposal from these lefties is to cut the F-35 also.

    The U.S. Air Force can’t be expected to prevail with 30 year old aircraft, against adversaries who spend money to acquire modern fighters like the Sukhoi Su-30, which can outfly our current fighters. But the Left wants it that way.

    The Left has always tried to gut the military to the point that an American President won’t be able to use military force with a reasonable chance of success. Hence, he’ll have no alternative but to “negotiate” (a.k.a surrender).

    That’s what the Left wants.
    They see the Pentagon as a wasteful, criminal institution, out of which as much money can be withdrawn as necessary because America shouldn’t be using military force.

    Look at the record of someone like Rep. Barbara Lee. She has opposed every single military action the U.S. has ever undertaken in her life. And she has voted to ZERO OUT, yes ZERO OUT, the military budget, every single year till 9-11 happened. (She opposed a military response to 9-11 too.)

  • balconesfault

    The U.S. Air Force can’t be expected to prevail with 30 year old aircraft, against adversaries who spend money to acquire modern fighters like the Sukhoi Su-30, which can outfly our current fighters. But the Left wants it that way.

    Which adversaries are buying the Sukhoi Su-30?

  • rbottoms

    Which adversaries are buying the Sukhoi Su-30?

    I hear the Taliban has a mean Airforce, part of a ragtag fleet trying to reach… Earth.

    Da Da-Da-Da, Da-Da-Da, Da Da Da Da Da Da, Da, Da Da-Da-Da-Da-Da, Da, Da-Da-Da-Da.

    ~ Lorne Greene

  • garlic

    We have more F-22 (5th gen fighter) than any operator of the SU-30 (4th gen fighter) except India, who has plans for 190 SU-30 MKI (4.5 gen fighter).

  • MI-GOPer

    rbottoms, the troll who comes here for the Sheer Sport of Incitement offers “I hear the Taliban has a mean Airforce”.

    The Taliban doesn’t need an Air Force. They have Obama and Biden in office. In a few short months, Obama will turn our allies & Afghanistan over to the Taliban… with a bow, naturally.

  • DFL

    Almost everything needs the axe. Medicare. Social Security. Pell Grants. The military. NASA. The Interstate Highway System. Medicaid. HUD Section Eight grants. And so on and so one.

    The USSR lost the Cold War for good in 1991, an effort that every sort of conservative- neo, paleo, mainstreet etc.- fought for when many on the Left looked the other way, especially after 1968. It was an achievement that we all can be proud of. But the need for a giant defense structure is no longer there. Not only that, America is broke. We need to cut back on deployments from Afghanistan to Korea to Japan to Germany to Iraq. We need to cut the number of aircraft carriers, planes and tanks.

  • teabag

    “Teabag,
    You’re a liar, and a purposeful liar at that. As I’ve told you previously, I am not now, nor have I ever been a lobbyist. I am, however, (among other things), a blogger and a journalist.”

    Tell you what I will strike a bargain with you. You stop lying about the President and I will stop calling you a lobst. Do we have a deal?

  • teabag

    That should be Lobbyist not Lobster. :-) Though a Lobster is something that hides away and roots around as a bottom feeder.

  • LFC

    This post is unbelievably dishonest in its comparisons. One example:

    What’s more, the so-called stimulus package cost $787 billion. That’s 20 to 25 times as much as the defense cuts Yglesias champions. Why not, then, cut $40 billion in pork from the so-called stimulus package?

    So you are comparing a one-time, one-year emergency spending bill spent in the second most dire economic crisis in a century to annual defense savings. Are you that dumb, or just that dishonest? Here’s a figure for you. The 10-year cost of the $787 billion stimulus bill is $787 billion. The 10-year cost of $40 billion in pork is $400 billion. And the savings from defense would just keep on coming in future years. Figures never lie, but liars always figure.

    Yet his supporters begrudge even 1% of the GDP to fight this war – jealous of every nickel that they covet instead to expand the welfare state at home.

    More dishonesty. You compare a “WORLD WAR” to Iraq. One saved the world from two evil tyrants at the head of vastly powerful militaries. The other was a colossal blunder. BTW, percentage of GDP is a horrible metric because during those other wars, we also had much higher tax rates. Since you’re comparing to percent of GDP, should we talk about going back to sky-high tax rates to pay for the war?

    Defense spending, in fact, accounts for just 20 percent of the federal budget; and it consumes between four and five percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

    More dishonesty. Let’s look at it properly. It consumes 50% of income tax revenue. Or nearly 38% of all tax revenue other than payroll taxes, which are supposed to be dedicated funding sources for Social Security and Medicare. Of course, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II raped the payroll tax surpluses that were to be saved for later. Clinton caught up on it, but the GOP just HAD to get their hands on that money and blow it once they got in power.

    GDP comparisons don’t mean s**t. Revenue comparisons mean everything.

    That’s why our military must be prepared to fight any and all potential adversaries. Who, after all, predicted 9-11 and the war in Afghanistan?

    Why do you think we’ve trained units like the 10th Mountain Division? And what happened that yanked them out of Afghanistan? Bush declared a moronic war of choice and took his eye off the ball. Spending 100% of GDP on the military can’t fix stupid (hat tip to Ron White).

    After all, a Democratic president once famously said that, under his leadership, America would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

    First, as to “pay any price, bear any burden”, well we’ve seen that the GOP’s motto is “borrow any amount without raising taxes, ask soldiers but not civilians to bear every burden…” Hell, Bush told us to go shopping!

    The day I hear you advocate a dedicated tax to pay for the military, with details as to who the tax will fall upon, I’ll suspect that you’re starting to get serious.

    Second, are you seriously saying that AQ is capable of destroying our liberty? Of taking down the entire country? REALLY? If so, you are a piss your pants reactionary who is so scared of everybody that he is incapable of assessing threat level. You are just like Dick “1% possibility” Cheney. Of course, I must be fair. Bush and Cheney were willing to toss aside laws and the Constitution at an amazing rate, so I guess AQ did actually somewhat succeed in destroying our liberty for a few years by scaring the bed wetting pansies in the Bush Administration.

  • mlindroo

    DFL wrote:
    > But the need for a giant defense structure is no longer there.

    At least there seems to be no compelling reason why the defense budget could not be halved, i.e. reduced to ~2% of GDP which is what the Chinese, British, French etc. are spending.

    Among the world’s top ten biggest military spenders, all but China and Russia are U.S. friends or allies.

    MARCU$

  • mthen

    John Guardiano Be nice to the lefty. If all the far leftists stopped coming to this site it would fold in a day.

  • teabag

    “John Guardiano Be nice to the lefty. If all the far leftists stopped coming to this site it would fold in a day.”

    I am more than capable of looking after myself. :-)

    You are right though, if this site is a representation of the right then heaven help them.

    Here we have 3 or 4 teabaggers/Birthers one guy so far right that he is a neocon anarchist. Two moderate Republicans and the vast majority of the people here are liberals. Is there any hope?

    If you go to the other RW blogs like Redstate they have hundreds of Teabaggers/Birthers. Frum tries every so often to do an inflammatory piece in order to get a Drudge link. That sends the nutters here for a week then away they go.

  • balconesfault

    This site is an interesting forum … I think its appeal to liberals and centrists is that (a) it’s not a liberal groupthink site, but one where we can come to engage the best arguments conservatives can make, and (b) unlike just about every other conservative/Republican site, challenging the conservative orthodoxy doesn’t immediately get you bounced from the forum.

    What is sad is that so few conservatives seem interested in engaging on those grounds, no doubt preferring the sanctuary of a RedState where any liberal poster creeping through will be banished forthwith.

  • WillyP

    teabag – a summarily dismissible ass.

  • WillyP

    WillyP // Dec 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    balcones, you’re simply wrong.
    http://mises.org/mmmp/mmmp5.asp

    he did not embrace the “neutrality of money.” he viewed it as ridiculous and ignorant.

  • teabag

    The Obama administration’s answer to this problem is to make things worse, by enacting a costly new entitlement — healthcare “reform” — that will cost at least $1 trillion and perhaps as much as $4.9 trillion over 20 years

    I see it all now. We can spend trillions and trillions on weapons systems to kill brown and black people but nothing to save the lives of our own citizens. Wow sure seems like compassionate Conservatism and Christian values to me.

  • franco 2

    Teabag,

    “vast majority of the people here are liberals”

    You and they aren’t liberals. You are leftists. Some are active leftists and others are default leftists but there is nothing liberal about your ideas. You want government control. You want wealth redistribution. Those are not liberal ideals.

  • balconesfault

    Willy – thanks – you are correct there. I had mistaken him for others. I mean to respond to that in the other forum where we were having the discussion, but I wanted to do additional research. You don’t need to chase me around with it from topic to topic ;-)

  • balconesfault

    Those are not liberal ideals.

    huh … and more salient to the topic of this thread, I don’t want to see the US needing to borrow money from abroad in order to continue to fight two wars in the Middle East and expand our arsenal.

    Does that make me a conservative?

  • WillyP

    being that there about 6 of us, it’s hardly a chase….

    nevertheless, the point remains – if you cannot solve the problem of economic calculation, you cannot efficiently allocate resources – and that means that supply can never meet demand. (moreover, if a supply deficiency is identified, there is no mechanism to decide what is the least costly trade-off.) and hence the whole scheme of “universal coverage” eventually ends up parallel to soviet healthcare – chronically in shortage and crisis, and unable to adequately meet the needs of the population. without the small harbors of free market medical care in the world, all socialist healthcare schemes would eventually collapse.

    the people who advocate the position are reckless/ignorant or deceitful.

    Merry Christmas!

  • balconesfault

    if you cannot solve the problem of economic calculation, you cannot efficiently allocate resources

    But pure economic calculation will often value capital far more than it values the lives of a great number of Americans.

    Meanwhile, there is never any system where supply can meet demand – pure free market or pure control.

    The argument that innovation and modernization will be eliminated from the healthcare industry if government is the sole buyer seems silly in light of any thread where we’re discussing the amazing amounts of money that the US has thrown at military technologies over the past decades. Virtually no private monies have been spent on defense, yet we are so far ahead of the weapons systems of a generation ago that it’s staggering.

    As I keep saying vis a vis Canada – if you spend a lot less on defense than the US does … as Canada does … you won’t have the same quality of military technology. If you spend a lot less on healthcare than the US does … as Canada does … you won’t have the same quality of healthcare.

  • mlindroo

    Balconesfault wrote:

    > This site is an interesting forum …
    > I think its appeal to liberals and centrists is that
    > (a) it’s not a liberal groupthink site,
    > but one where we can come to engage the best arguments conservatives can make, and
    > (b) unlike just about every other conservative/Republican site,
    > challenging the conservative orthodoxy doesn’t immediately get you bounced from the forum.

    I certainly agree.

    I have been reading Frum since his NRO days, *not* because he frequently criticizes his own side but because he writes interesting & unpredictable stuff, usually tries to back his arguments with facts and at least occasionally seems willing to honestly question his original assumptions. Quite a few of the younger conservative/libertarian bloggers (Dreher, McArdle, Douthat, Salam, Friedensdorf) share this trait too, but the popular right wing mainstream (Limbaugh, Beck, Malkin’s HotAir, PajamasMedia) is little more than a dishonest propaganda echo chamber. I find the popular lefty forums such as HuffPo, MoveOn or Kos totally uninteresting for the same reason…like their enemies on the Right, these people never have doubts.

    MARCU$

  • teabag

    “vast majority of the people here are liberals”

    You and they aren’t liberals. You are leftists. Some are active leftists and others are default leftists but there is nothing liberal about your ideas. You want government control. You want wealth redistribution. Those are not liberal ideals.

    Franco you are wrong. I am against wealth distribution certainly the sort Bush enacted where he distributed money from the middle class to the top 2% of the population. That sort of crime is going to be forever a stain on the Republicans.

    BTW Happy Christmas.

  • sinz54

    WillyP: nevertheless, the point remains – if you cannot solve the problem of economic calculation, you cannot efficiently allocate resources – and that means that supply can never meet demand.
    We agree.

    When it comes to health care, supply can never meet demand.

    No matter how high the price of health care goes, patients aren’t going to walk away in disgust and voluntarily choose to die of their illnesses instead. That’s quite different from, say, automobile repair, where if it costs you too much to keep your old car running, you’ll junk it.

    hence the whole scheme of “universal coverage” eventually ends up parallel to soviet healthcare – chronically in shortage and crisis, and unable to adequately meet the needs of the population.
    For the above reason, I argue that chronic shortage of health care resources is a characteristic of EVERY democratic society, including our capitalist one. The only societies in which supply and demand are brought into balance are those that employ euthanasia of those patients whose chronic care is too expensive, as Nazi Germany did.

    In our U.S. society, millions of Americans get inadequate care, because they have no health insurance and can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket. That’s how we ration care–by price. The fewer your financial resources, the less care you get. Even if that means you die sooner.

  • anniemargret

    *Liberals* do not like unnecessary or ill-advised or ill-prepared wars. Not a sweeping anti-war, which keeps popping up on this blog, as in ‘all lefties are peaceniks’ as if all Democrats are anti-war. er…no, they’re not. As always you guys need to do your homework and get out a bit more.

    btw, Sinze, that word, ‘peaceniks’ went out with ‘groovy.’

    The vast majority of Democrats are not leftists, but liberals/progressives. We understand that the U.S. military needs to be strong and we need to ‘win’ when the goals are clear, when the strategy is clear. Iraq was a war of choice, no matter how hard it gets spinned. There was no clear imminent fear that Saddam Hussein nor the Iraqis were going to invade the U.S. nor rain nukes down on Cleveland.

    If we’re talking about defeating al Quaeda, good, let’s do it. Let’s get Bin Laden, for God’s sake. It’s been over 8 years. This is disgraceful. As a fellow New Yorker, I still cringe and shake with anger and frustration that this evil ‘capo di tutti capi’ of Islamic terrorism is still on the lam.

    That said, all war is an abomination. It should be decided upon with pristine intelligence, not ‘from the gut’ reasoning. It should be the last resort, not ‘pre-emptive war’ based on faulty or cherry-picked intelligence. Human beings die. Children die. Innocents die. Soldiers die.

    If this makes me and my like-minded friends and family ‘peaceniks’ then the word has been distorted beyond measure. I want my leaders to be wise and very, very careful – especially in matters of war, because there’s no going back. Because the law of unintended consequences always rears its head. Not to mention the depletion and exhaustion of the military – we cannot afford any more ‘from the gut’ wars.

    “It is well that war is so terrible, lest we get too fond of it.” – Robert E. Lee

  • franco 2

    “….Bush enacted where he distributed money from the middle class to the top 2% of the population.”

    This is simply a lie.

    Beyond this purely false statement, the assumptions prove you are for wealth redistribution. You see, teabag, even if your statement were true about the top 2% getting all the tax breaks, which it is not, we already have wealth redistribution in this country, so any “tax breaks for the rich” lessens wealth redistribution.

    The richest people people pay the most in taxes. Because we have a progressive tax rate, the rich not only pay more absolute money in taxes, they pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes. Poor people pay no taxes. If a politician lessens the tax burden across the board you can say it’s “Tax breaks for the rich” because the rich pay the most in taxes. You cannot give tax breaks to the poor because they don’t pay taxes. See how that works?

    So, you just want rich people to pay more taxes than they are already paying. For you the status quo is unfair. Rich people, even though they account for the lions’ share of tax revenue which the US government is redistributing in a myriad of ways, should keep having their money confiscated at the same or higher rates.

    You believe we need in the same or more wealth redistribution, and I believe we need less.

  • franco 2

    anniemargret // Dec 23, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    A few questions.

    You don’t mention Afghanistan. Is this a just war in your opinion?

    “The vast majority of Democrats are not leftists, but liberals/progressives.”

    Certainly most voters of either party are not ideologues, so I agree with you, however I’d like to know what you consider a leftist and how that differs from a progressive.

    “Let’s get Bin Laden, for God’s sake. It’s been over 8 years. This is disgraceful.

    I believe it is a mistake to focus on personalities in this war. Imagine if Al Qaeda felt like they were losing the war, or their leaders were failing them because Bush is still alive?

    There are several reasons why it is not useful to go after Bin Laden, as despicable as he is.

    I ask you to put your thinking cap on and consider these possibilities…

    The problem from a military perspective going after Bin laden is the risk/reward calculation.
    Bin Laden, if alive, is hiding in one of the most difficult remote regions in the world. High mountains unfamiliar terrain. No infrastructure. These areas are perfect for ambushes, traps and military disasters. This is the kind of place where it doesn’t really matter how many troops you send in and actually the more troops you send, the more will die, but if you don’t send enough they will ALL die and the mission will fail. This happened to the Soviets in Afghanistan. They had absolute will, they had a totalitarian command government, not a Democracy like ours ,and still they failed. When a military attempts something and fails it is a tremendous boon to the enemy. The failure of the Soviets in Afghanistan (with our help BTW …unintended consequences) served as a great recruitment tool for Al Qaeda.

    Another problem. These people are suicidal. In this kind of terrain they could cause disaster for our troops and even if the troops got to the verge of capturing or killing him he would blow himself up along with hundreds of our guys. What a propaganda victory that would be for AQ! Bin Laden would be lionized even further as a martyr.

    These regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan are home to possibly the most tribal anti-American anti-Western religious zealots on earth. There is no sympathetic population. Every troop location will be reported. And there would be massive collateral damage and more propaganda victories for AQ.

    What would this do to the morale of OUR troops and our country? If we lost scores of elite troops and still couldn’t prove we got him? (I’m sure they have found a way to rig wherever he is hiding as a giant boobytrap that would insure a propaganda victory.)

    There are other possibilities.

    Our intelligence may know where he is and is using him to gain information.

    He is actually dead and Al Qaeda doesn’t want anyone to know.

    He is actually dead and the US government doesn’t want anyone to know.

    Both of the above.

    ___________________________________________________________________

    He can no longer finance anything and really can’t communicate with operatives. It isn’t like he is some genius who single-handedly has the power to come up with devastating plans. Al Q is not a hierarchical organization that depends much on a central planner.

    It is pretty clear that Osama is no longer a threat in any case, so why spend the lives of our most elite soldiers – and I guarantee you there is no way we can get him without a huge loss on our side – to get him. It won’t be a propaganda victory for us…there is no way that would make us look good. It also is not a deterrent. “If attack us we’ll hunt you down and get you” isn’t much since these people thrive on martyrdom, especially knowing that if they get more of us in that process they will be overjoyed.

    So really what you want is to send our best forces to be used as IED fodder for what is essentially a personal revenge fantasy…

    I don’t think you want that since you said,

    “It should be decided upon with pristine intelligence, not ‘from the gut’ reasoning.”

  • WillyP

    mlindroo, you find pajamasmedia propaganda?

    don’t they publish victor davis hanson?

    frum, i’ll say along with Mark Levin, is a putz.

  • WillyP

    err, I hope it’s clear that I intended to be saying that Frum is a putz, and doing so along with Mark Levin, who gave him the apt descriptor.

  • sinz54

    WillyP: It is pretty clear that Osama is no longer a threat in any case
    Osama will remain a threat until he’s dead.

    We underestimated him once.
    Not again.

  • sinz54

    mlindroo: the popular right wing mainstream (Limbaugh, Beck, Malkin’s HotAir, PajamasMedia) is little more than a dishonest propaganda echo chamber. I find the popular lefty forums such as HuffPo, MoveOn or Kos totally uninteresting for the same reason…like their enemies on the Right, these people never have doubts.
    BOTH of these factions are now opposing the Senate health care bill.

    Remarkably, I’ve seen Leftists on these Lefty forums suggesting that Leftists should join with the right-wing Tea Party protesters and stage joint protests against the health care bill!

  • WillyP

    sinz54 // Dec 24, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    WillyP:

    It is pretty clear that Osama is no longer a threat in any case

    i didn’t say that

  • mlindroo

    Sinz54 wrote:

    > Remarkably, I’ve seen Leftists on these Lefty forums suggesting that
    > Leftists should join with the right-wing Tea Party protesters and stage
    > joint protests against the health care bill!

    Well, if “your” morons and “our” morons both hate it, then Obama’s health care proposal most likely represents a nice, centrist starting point for reform.
    Don’t you think?

    MARCU$

  • sinz54

    mlindroo: Well, if “your” morons and “our” morons both hate it, then Obama’s health care proposal most likely represents a nice, centrist starting point for reform.
    Don’t you think?
    Given that liberals are in control of the White House and Congress,
    the health care bill that seems likely to emerge from House-Senate conference is not as bad as I had feared.

  • melpol

    There are over 7 million food and beverage service workers in the US. Most earn at least 18 thousand annually. The job requires only a friendly smile, the ability to change a twenty dollar bill, and a few weeks of training. Many of these jobs are filled by hard working illegal immigrants who support large families in the US and in foreign countries. They deserve our sympathy, but those jobs should be available only to American born Blacks. This new employment opportunity would end most of the social and economic problems that have plagued the black community for generations. Dependency on government support will be ended with an annual savings of over one trillion dollars, helping erase the national debt.
    Unfortunately it would be difficult to implement this program. There are many workers that earn a living off the misfortune of others. Think of all the government agencies and contractors that support black poverty in the name of entitlement programs and law enforcement. Most of their doors would be shut. They would have to find a more productive way of earning a living.
    A new class of 7 million black food and beverage workers would create a powerful social force in the US. Politicians will beg for their votes. New laws and opportunities will result in some of the workers obtaining ownership of the companies that employed them. Many will further their education and become doctors or lawyers. The ones that decide to remain as workers in the food and beverage industry will be earning an honest wage deserving the respect and admiration of all communities. No longer would the media have stories of 50% unemployment and high crime rates among blacks. Their focus on national tragedies would be turned elsewhere. A perfect society can never be created, there will always be those that are needy. But for over a century the burden of being our neediest Americans has been carried by blacks. It is time for a change.