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Debt Becomes Him

23 May 2012

Do you remember the day the federal debt ceiling was reached?  May 16th, 2011.

It was a tumultuous time in Washington. Democrats were demanding the wealthy pay the same tax rate as the middle class and the Republicans were demanding huge cuts to social services like Social Security and Medicare. Democrats refused the social services cuts. Republicans refused to increase revenue from their wealthy brethren.

In the end, the debt ceiling was raised with the provision that a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, colloquially referred to as the Supercommittee, would seek innovative ways of reducing the national deficit. The committee was created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 on August 2, 2011, and is comprised of six Republicans and six Democrats.

Built in to the Budget Control Act of 2011 was a solution for a possible worst case scenario: If the super committee was unable to cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion then both parties would lose funding for programs they care deeply for. Republicans agreed that the default loss in the event of reduction failure would be from defense spending. Democrats agreed social services would lose funding if the super committee failed.

Fast forward to today; May 23rd, 2012. One year and one week later. The national debt is $15.7 trillion dollars and the super committee has failed to meet its goal. Cue the default spending cuts for both parties.

— but wait! Speaker Boehner and his fellow Republicans are now refusing to make the cuts Congress agreed to last year. He says spending cuts for the defense budget are now off the table and they should be replaced with additional cuts to social services. In effect, refusing to honor his agreement while expecting democrats to give up more than was agreed to.

The United States defense budget is arguably the most bloated budget in the world. Operating at about $740 billion per year, the United States spends nearly nine times more on its defense budget than the nation with the second largest military budget in the world; China. We literally spend more on defense than the next ten highest defense budgets combined.

2011 Defense Spending numbers from around the world.

Then there is the presumptive Republican Presidential candidate, willard Romney, who has stated, if elected, he intends to increase defense spending by $2 trillion dollars despite the current inability to pay for the existing budget.

Romney Defense Spending Plan

Despite an inability to pay the current DoD defense budget, Romney wants to see that budget expanded.

Add to that the fact that an argument over the fast approaching debt ceiling has already begun and another debt ceiling showdown could be the start of a new recession… and I can’t help but wonder how the Republicans will be able to use this situation to their advantage in an election year.

Parading a would-be President who wants to dramatically increase spending while the possibility of a new recession looms as a result of a party-line refusal to cut spending from bloated budgets doesn’t seem like a winning ticket to me.

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