The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

President Obama needs to stand his ground on Medicare and Social Security


Late last week the Washington Post published a 'cannot stop reading' chronicle about the 2011 deficit/debt  "grand bargain" failure between President Obama, Speaker Boehner and House Leader Cantor.   The detailed accounting provides a punch-by-punch narrative of how our federal government works when it comes to major initiatives.   The amenable personality of President Obama was ever-present in the negotiations as major negotiation points (items) were bantered back and forth. On the other side of the "isle" Boehner and cantor appeared to have made an effort towards a 'grand bargain' deal; they were hindered in their progress via their self-inflicted Tea Party contingent. The high-level negotiations span the better part of a week (or two weeks).  Key to the negotiation items were the Bush taxes cuts, tax increase for the wealthy, Healthcare reform (peripherally) and entitlement programs. For a bit of flavor of the Washington Post article,  read the following series of excerpts.  The excerpts are not contiguous article excerpts.
 ...Excited and upbeat three days earlier, Obama now was stern and lecturing. According to notes taken by GOP aides, he opened by complaining about Boehner’s demand for $200 billion in Medicaid cuts, a persistent point of contention. Then he began to talk about taxes, saying the Gang of Six “makes things more complicated.” The White House would need more tax revenue or smaller health-care cuts. 

....Boehner opened by expressing continued support for a big deal. But he told Obama that Republicans could not sign off on $1.2 trillion in new taxes. “I cannot go there,” he said. Nor could he sell $800 billion in tax increases without cuts to federal health programs, the biggest drivers of future borrowing.
....Boehner said Republicans could accept automatic repeal of the top-end Bush tax cuts as an enforcement trigger only if that were balanced by automatic repeal of a key piece of Obama’s signature health-care law, the individual mandate. Here in the president’s own office, Boehner used the most derisive terminology of conservative critics, calling it “Obamacare.”
....On Thursday morning, aides to Boehner and Cantor gathered again at the White House. During a two-hour meeting, the two sides hashed over minute details of a deal, never actually killing the president’s request for additional tax revenue.
Later that day, Obama called Boehner. The two spoke as if an agreement was still possible. 
“We’re close,” Obama said. “Call me back.” 
That night, Obama prepared his party’s congressional leaders. He warned Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that he might return to the position under discussion the previous Sunday — that is, cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in exchange for just $800 billion in tax increases. 
Would they support him? 
The Democratic leaders “kind of gulped” when they heard the details, Daley recalled. 
....Reluctantly, Reid and Pelosi agreed to do their best to support the plan. 
Boehner, meanwhile, had gone dark. 
The House speaker did not return Obama’s call until 5:30 p.m. the next day, a Friday, when he told the president that he was again breaking off the talks. The two men staged dueling news conferences. Obama said angrily that he had been “left at the altar” again. Boehner said dealing with the White House was “like dealing with a bowl of Jell-o.” 
“There was an agreement with the White House for $800 billion in revenue,” Boehner told reporters. “It was the president who walked away from this agreement.” 
Two day(s) later, July 24, one week after the Sunday morning meeting that sparked such optimism, the president found himself trying to turn back the clock. 
Working late into the evening, Obama asked someone to get Boehner on the phone. His message: I’ll take your last offer.
“Mr. President,” Boehner answered, “we don’t have time to reopen these negotiations.”

I am going to now post a series of charts and graphs related to the nation's defense and military spending.  Alas, you did not see defense spending among the negotiations items listed above. As you review the illustrations, keep in-mind you read nothing above related to cutting defense spending.  If you want to see one piece of data that should guide your thoughts as you view the illustration: 48 % of US Discretionary Spending is consumed by defense spending.

I am certain I need not mention the following, but just in case; think about our aging citizenry, people who are struggling to remain in the middle income strata, people without healthcare and our less than world class infrastructure.

Exhibit I.  58% of Discretionary Spending: Defense

pie chart 

Exhibit II. Worldwide Defense Spending. Do we really need to spend at the levels depicted in this illustration? (Seek larger view below image)

Larger Version  (A must review... 48%of world expenditures @ 711 billion USA)

Exhibit III.  Military Spending 1988 - 2010 (consider using the linked interactive chart)

Interactive version  (Intriguing to move interactive inside bar and watch as spending decrees and increases since 1990.

Exhibit IV.  The Business Insider (compares our spending with data reflecting our population as compared to other industrialized nations).

The Business Insider (Charts our path to destruction)

The U.S. is grossly overweight in military spending relative to population and GDP

If you came away from the illustrations and images and do not better understanding the level at which the nation's military industrial complex consumes our economy, you are truly on the wrong webpage.

It appears the expenditure consuming sector is so ingrained common Democratic concern for defense spending, has become a thing of the past. Can you remember the last time you actually heard a Democrat speak about defense spending? I do not recall any such comment over the past two years.

Why start the piece out with a picture of the Pentagon's latest hundred million dollar per copy jet fighter (in development)? President Obama has inadvertently fallen into "48% of Discretionary" Spending GOP paradigm via not including defense spending as an ongoing item for deficit/debt negotiations. The non-inclusion is a major win for 'military spending hawks," as they have the president and his team focused on whittling away at entitlement programs. Of course, Medicare is a major current and exponentially even more serious drain on future spending. However,  it seems to pale in comparison to the illustrations above (and the data from which the images were developed). How much funding could we gain from serious cuts in defense spending, with trimmed expenditures ear-marked for funding of entitlement programs? Why is Bernie Sanders (D) Vermont that only member of congress who has spoken openly about removing the $106,800 CAP on payment of social Security Payroll Taxes? Why can't those who are fortunate enough to earn at higher levels pay payroll taxes further into the year? If you earn less than $106,800 per year, you pay the tax from January 1 through December 31 of same year.

Are we getting our monies worth via our representatives in Washington D.C.? On matters of deficit/debt, I am speaking from the president down through the lowest level of congressional aide. It appears we are paying members of our Federal Government 'hefty' levels of compensation, AND FREE MEDICAL CARE, in some cases free college tuition for their children, and we are getting next to nothing in exchange.

It really boils down to the simple fact that we have wealthy people (In Washington DC) bantering around with our middle class futures. 

President Obama should reach much deeper for negations items. Defense spending is fertile ground.

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