Posts tagged ‘Defense Spending’

01/17/2012

Republican Debate: New Hamp (1-8-12)

FOREIGN POLICY: Paul said we need someone to challenge our huge empire overseas and the amount we spend on it. Elections are held overseas, he said, but we refuse to accept results. We can no longer have 900 bases in 130 countries, he said. Santorum argued the problem with Paul is all the things Republicans like about him, he cannot accomplish, and all the things they worry about, he can do on day one. As commander-in-chief, on day one, Paul could pull all our troops back from overseas. We would no longer have the 5th Fleet in the Persian Gulf. Perry also disagreed with Paul, saying overseas spending is not our biggest problem.

DEFENSE SPENDING: Huntsman said Defense should not be a sacred cow. If we cannot find cuts in the Defense, we are nuts.

IRAN: Santorum argued Iran has a theocracy which believes the afterlife is better than this one. They are different than the Soviets, China, or North Korea, as they would actually use nuclear weapons, since they value martyrdom and would die for Allah.

PAKISTAN: Even though Pakistan already has nuclear weapons, Santorum said they are a secular state, and not theocratic.

SOCIALISM: Perry believes Obama is a socialist. Paul said there is a socialism for the rich. The banks, and military industrial complex run the entitlement system, and benefit from it.

CAPITALISM: Gingrich referred to a NY Times report that said Romney’s Bain Capital engaged in behavior which looted a company and left 1,700 unemployed.

RECESSION: Romney does not blame Obama for the recession, but claims he is responsible for getting us deeper into it and causing it to go on longer.

BANKS: Romney argues the Dodd-Frank Bill made it harder for community banks to make loans.

LABOR: Perry thinks there is a federal law that forces states to enact right-to-work laws. He claims he is not anti-union, but instead pro-jobs. Santorum would sign a national right-to-work law. Romney said the anti-union right-to-work laws make sense for the entire nation. He also claims Obama stacked the National Labor Relations Board with “labor stooges.”

ENERGY: In response to a question regarding home heating oil prices rising in NH to $4 gallon, because Obama cut the program that helps low income people, Huntsman said we need to disrupt the oil monopoly. Paul wants energy deregulated. He said subsidizing it is not the way to do it. Gingrich wants federal lands and offshore areas opened for oil and gas development. Romney said air pollution is a reason to switch to natural gas, located in the Dakotas, Penn and Texas, which costs only a fraction of oil.

ENVIRONMENT: Romney said we are responsible for clean air and cannot allow pollution from one state to flow to another state.

HEALTH CARE: Huntsman agrees with the Ryan plan which would remove 6.2 trillion from the budget over 10 years. Medicare should not be a sacred cow, he said. He would impose means testing. Gingrich called the new Ryan-Wyden bill more sensible. Paul explained medical care is not a right, like liberty, but rather an entitlement. He explained federal employees have a choice of plans. If they opt for a more expensive one, their co-insurance costs are higher. Romney would cut Obamacare and save 95 billion a year. Santorum opposes subsidizing high income seniors and supports anti-socialist approaches like Medical Savings Accounts, Medicare Advantage, based on premiums, and Medicare Part D.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Romney does not want to change Medicare or Social Security for current retirees.

POVERTY: Romney said federal poverty programs need to be sent back to the states. Given the bureaucracy, he thinks very little actually reaches those who need it. Santorum would block grant food stamps and housing and send them back to the states.

AGENCIES: Perry would eliminate the Energy, Commerce, and Education Depts. Romney would cut a whole series of programs.

TERM LIMITS: Huntsman said, as a candidate for governor, he talked about term limits and campaign finance reform.

BUDGET: The only people who would be in pain through budget cuts are crooks, Gingrich said. Romney said we need to stop the extraordinary spending going on for the past 20, 30 to 40 years.  Paul said his 1 trillion dollar proposal to cut spending would not begin with Social Security, but rather overseas spending. He would return to the 2006 budget. Perry said spending is the biggest problem and wants a balanced budget amendment.

TAXES: The right course, Romney said, is not to raise taxes. Huntsman said loopholes and deductions weigh down our tax code by 1 trillion dollars, and give rise to lobbying on Capitol Hill. We must say good-bye to corporate welfare and subsidies.

FAMILY: Santorum believes the breakdown of the American family is undermining America, as he pointed out the rate of poverty in single-parent families is five times higher.

GAYS: Romney would not discriminate against gays. He appointed people to the bench regardless of sexual orientation, but does not favor same-sex marriage. Santorum said every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should have equal opportunity, but he opposes adoption by gay couples.

ELECTABILITY: Romney will have a very hard time getting elected, Gingrich argued. Romney called himself a conservative, who balanced the Mass budget 4 years straight, and cut taxes 19 times. Santorum pointed out that if Romney was such a great Mass. Gov, why didn’t he run for re-election? He said Romney lost a race to Sen. Kennedy in 1994 by 20 points. When Romney claimed politics is not a career for him, Gingrich told him to drop the “pious baloney.” He said Romney has been running for office since the 1990s.  Paul doesn’t think the Republicans will do well with a candidate who endorsed the single-payer system and TARP bailouts. Paul sponsored 620 measures, but just 4 made it to the floor, and only 1 became law.

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10/19/2011

Republican Debate: Nevada (10-18-11)

The Republican Presidential candidates debated in Nevada.

DEFENSE SPENDING: Ron Paul said there is a lot of money in the military budget that does no good. We have an empire with 900 bases in 150 countries, and would be safer if we were not in so many places. Why keep troops in Korea, Japan, or Germany? We have more weapons than all other nations combined, Paul said, enough to blow up the world 20 to 25 times. Bachmann said defense spending should be on the table, but not 500 million. Gingrich would determine our threats, and calculate the cost of a response. Santorum would not cut a penny of military spending.

AFGHANISTAN: Ron Paul said the U.S. should withdraw from Afghanistan, because the Soviet Union was brought down by entering that country, and the same thing will happen to us.

FOREIGN AID: Romney said we spend more on foreign aid than we should, and we should let China do it, because it makes no sense to borrow from China to give aid to others. Paul would cut all foreign aid, including aid to Israel, saying the Constitution does not authorize it. Aid to Israel does not help, but only teaches dependency. We take from the poor, Paul said, and give to the rich in poor states. He said look at the aid we gave to Egypt. We spent billions pumping up a dictator, and yet they are hostile to us. Cain would give foreign aid to friends, like Israel, but not enemies. Bachmann opposed cutting foreign aid to Israel, since she believes they are our greatest ally.

ISRAEL: Bachmann incorrectly accused Obama of being the first president since Israeli independence to put daylight between our nations. (She never studied Eisenhower’s stand at Suez in 1956)

UN & PALESTINE: Perry thought it was a travesty for the Palestinian Authority to go to the UN to seek statehood. He asked why the U.S. is contributing to the UN. He would defund it.

LIBYA & IRAQ: Bachmann wants Libya and Iraq to reimburse us for the cost of bombing their countries. She wants our troops to have immunity for any and all wrongdoing committed in Iraq.

IRAN: Bachmann accused Iran of an attempted assassination on U.S. soil. The number one global issue, she said, is Iran and nuclear weapons. She called their leader a genocidal maniac, but offered no proof to back up her claim. Santorum also said our central threat is Iran. Neither candidate explained how or why they see Iran as a credible threat to the U.S.

TERROR: Paul said Reagan negotiated with Iranian terrorists for a return of hostages. Gingrich said Reagan made a mistake. Bachmann would not release anyone at Guantanamo. Can would not negotiate. Santorum would never negotiate, period.

WALL STREET: Cain had said: “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job, and you are not rich, blame yourself.” He said Wall Street did nothing wrong; they did not spend a trillion for no good. Protesters should be in front of the White House, Cain said. Ron Paul accused Cain of blaming victims. He would protest in front of the Federal Reserve and in Washington. The bailout was supported by both parties, Paul said. They bailed out big corporations, who ripped off people in the derivatives market. They thought the world would end if we did not bail banks out. The middle class got stuck. Paul said if money was given out, it should have gone to people who lost their mortgages, not the banks. Romney called the protests dangerous class warfare, and said Obama is to blame over the past three years, as he says he has no idea how the private sector works.

HOUSING: Santorum said Romney, Perry, and Cain supported TARP. Cain said people on the top who took risks got bailed out in 2008, but the market should have been allowed to work. Perry wanted Congress to act, but did not want TARP. Santorum said Perry supported the particular TARP plan on the House floor. Romney said government should not give a couple thousand dollars to buy a new home, or to keep banks from foreclosing.

JOBS: Perry wants to focus on the 9% unemployed. Santorum said no more products “Made in America” hurts the middle class. Gingrinch wants America off food stamps and on paychecks. Romney said half the jobs created in Texas were filled by illegals.

IMMIGRATION: Texan Ron Paul said a fence is not the answer to illegal immigration. We worry more about the Afghan and Pakistan borders than our own, Paul said, and need to bring our National Guards home so they can guard our borders. Perry blamed the federal government for failing to secure the 1,200 mile Texas border, and for the huge number of illegals looking for jobs. Businesses who hire illegals ought to be penalized, Perry said. He does not want to repeal the 14th Amendment as to citizenship by birth. A fence could be built, Perry said, but it would take 15 years and 30 billion. He instead recommended strategic fencing where it matters, and predator drones to direct boots on the ground. Perry accused Romney of hiring illegals to work on his property, but Romney denied it, saying it’s hard to know if lawn care contractors employ illegals. When he learned they hired illegals, they were let go. Perry also accused Romney of offering amnesty to aliens. Romney said Perry was the one open to amnesty, and accused him of creating a magnet by giving aliens a $100,000 tuition credit, a practice that must end. We must stop employer magnets by enforcing E-Verify. Romney also said 4.5 million want to come here legally in an orderly way. He said Perry’s Texas had a 60% increase in illegal immigration, while California and Florida had none. Cain would build a fence and have it electrified. He would promote a path to citizenship, and shut the back door, so people could come in the front door. He wants to empower states. Bachmann accused Obama’s aunt and uncle of being illegal aliens. She took a pledge to build a wall, saying illegals cost 113 billion a year. She would also enforce English as the official language. She said they cross the border to have anchor babies and the welfare that come with it. Gingrich said to 50 million Latinos, not all of whom are illegal, that America is the most open nation to immigration in history.

ENERGY: Paul said it’s wrong for 49 states to dump nuclear garbage in Nevada. Romney said Nevadans should have the final say and not have it jammed down their throats.  He wants energy independence, using our own natural resources. France gets 70% of their energy from nuclear power, Perry said. He wants 1.2 million people working on energy. We shouldn’t rely on OPEC, saying we should be energy independent. We need not subsidize energy. Gingrich wants a safe way of take care of nuclear waste.

HEALTH CARE: Paul said we need more medical competition. Americans should be allowed to opt out of Obama’s health care. Bachmann said even the Obama Administration realized they cannot afford Long Term Care. Santorum said Obama failed to focus on the cost of health care, which is the real problem. He said Romney has no credibility, since Obama’s plan was basically his. Romney called Obama’s plan unconstitutional, which should be repealed, as it is a huge burden on the economy. He would turn Medicare over to the states. He said his plan for Mass. was not for the entire nation. The idea of the individual mandate came from Gingrich, Romney said. His state relied on private insurers. The uninsured got private not government insurance. When it comes to knowledge about health care, Romney said I am the doctor. Gingrich admitted supporting the individual mandate in opposition to Hillarycare, but the Heritage Foundation came up with the idea. He said a small business is Mass. is being ordered to pay a fine of $3,000 for not paying $750 month in premiums.

TAXES: Cain tried to defend his 999 tax plan, which would impose a 9% federal sales tax and repeal all tax breaks. He argued it would remove all hidden income taxes in goods and services, and was not a value-added tax, but a single tax, which was revenue neutral. He failed to convince anyone it would not raise taxes on those making the least. Bachmann, a tax lawyer, also wants to abolish the tax code, but said Cain’s 999 plan would destroy the economy. She warned if Congress was given a new sales tax, it would never go away. She argued it would be applied against products at every stage of production. Everyone should pay taxes, she said, even if it is only $1. Santorum said 84% of Americans would pay more under Cain’s plan, which eliminates all deductions and exemptions. Getting rid of deductions would mean those with home mortgages would pay more, and people with three children would pay the same tax as a single man. He favored cutting the tax rate for manufacturing to zero. Perry, whose state already has a 6.25% sales tax, said Nevada’s is 8%, and New Hampshire’s is 0%, but no state wanted a 9% federal sales tax; they want flatter and fairer taxes. Romney said to a cheering crowd, Nevada does not want a 9% federal sales tax on top of an 8% state sales tax.  Paul opposes Cain’s plan, because it is regressive and increase taxes. He would replace income taxes with nothing. Gingrich wants to reduce capital gains taxes to zero.

RELIGION: Perry disagreed with the pastor who said Mormonism is a cult. Romney said the Founders appreciated the Freedom of Religion. The Founders went to great length to create a nation with a Constitution that respected all.

10/12/2011

Republican Debate New Hamp (10-11-11)

The Republican candidates met in New Hampshire on Oct. 11, 2011 to debate economic issues.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE: Romney said we have been run over by China for 20 years, and he would issue an Executive Order identifying them as a currency manipulator, and then prosecute them in the WTO.  He did not want a trade war, but did not want to let them use us either. Huntsman worried if we apply penalties, we will get the same in return, because we also manipulate our currency, and a trade war would hurt our agricultural exporters.

EURO CRISIS: Gingrich said the Greek economy should not be using the Euro-Zone Currency. Ron Paul uncovered the Federal Reserve sent 5 billion overseas to bail out foreign banks.

DEFENSE SPENDING: Romney will not cut defense spending.

BANKING: If the economies of the entire world were collapsing, Romney would take action. He said we need to prevent a contagion from affecting U.S. banks. President Bush had to take action to keep all banks from closing. Santorum opposed the bailout of the Wall Street banks, and the creation of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which Romney, Huntsman, Perry, and Cain supported. Bachmann said the banks cannot grow, because they are being required to comply with new rules. Cain thought the Wall Street protesters should target the government.

FEDERAL RESERVE: Gingrich said the fix has been in since the Bush Administration. Newt said Paulsen, Bernanke, and Geithner are not smart, and he would fire Bernanke and Geithner over the crisis. He singled out Bernanke for spending billions bailing out one group, over another. He said it is wrong for one man to have that kind of secret power. He wants all Fed documents released, so we can better prepare for the next crisis. Romney would also discharge Bernanke. Cain had no objection to a Fed audit. Paul called the Fed the engine of inflation and the source of recessions.

INTEREST RATES: Paul said Greenspan kept interest rates too low for too long. Easy credit caused a bubble and then it burst and now we need a correction. We should not have someone at the Fed deciding what interest rates should be, or how much money we should have. We should go back to the gold standard, Paul said. Because the Fed is setting artificially low interest rates, Bachmann blamed the financial meltdown on the government.

HOUSING: We built too many houses, Paul said, and then the Wall Street speculators got bailed out, but the Middle Class lost homes. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae caused overbuilding and distortions, and the government must get out of housing. Bachmann said the government pushed housing goals, as Freddie and Fannie put mortgages in a difficult place. Gingrich said the easy ability to buy homes is where we went wrong the last decade. He blamed the Countryside deal on the lobbyists for Freddie Mac.

JOBS: Romney said funds should not have been used to bail out GM and Chrysler. The NLRB should not be telling Boeing it cannot build in a non-union state. He said we borrowed 800 billion for a job stimulus, but didn’t see any jobs. Huntsman would regain our industrial base by lowering taxes and lessening regulations. Santorum said we are uncompetitive, and must reduce corporate taxes from 35% to zero on those who invest in plant and equipment in this country. Perry wants our manufacturing back.

ENERGY: Perry would repeal regulations that interfere with the energy industry. He would put 1.2 million people to work in the industry, so the U.S. can become energy independent. It was wrong, he said, for Obama to invest in Solyndra, a solar energy firm. When asked about doing the same in Texas, he said his legislature had oversight and created 54,000 jobs. Santorum would drill in Pennsylvania, saying it is a gas capital.

HEALTH CARE: Romney said Americans are not satisfied with the status quo. Although he would repeal Obamacare, he asked, what are we going to replace it with? In Mass, he dealt with the 8% who were uninsured. He said Perry has one million uninsured kids in Texas, while Mass has less than 1%. Romney said Obama’s plan raises taxes and spends trillions. Huntsman wants a health care solution that works in the market. He warned the IRS is already gearing up with 19,500 employees to administer the insurance mandate. Santorum would repeal Obamacare, but not by waivers. He would repeal the taxes and spending for it, so the insurance mandate would have no teeth.

MEDICARE: Gingrich was asked: Are the last two years of life under Medicare wasteful spending? He did not want death panels. Bachmann warned Part B for hospitals will be broke in nine years. She thinks Obama would push people out of Medicare into Obamacare, and 15 political appointees will make major decisions for 300 million Americans. Perry says Medicare needs to be block-granted to the states.

BUDGET & DEBT: Cain wants revenues to equal spending. Perry would propose a Balanced Budget Amendment, because we raise taxes, but never get spending reductions. Paul said the debt is a burden on the economy. Bachmann opposed increases in the Debt Ceiling, because she did not want to give Obama another 2.4 trillion. We spend 40% more than we take in, she said, and cut backs on spending would be only part of the answer. Romney said we cannot have more tax revenues, because that would kill jobs.

TAXES: Romney would not raise taxes. We don’t need Cain’s 999 tax plan, said Perry. The last thing Bachmann would do is let Congress impose a national sales tax, a suggested by Cain. Santorum said Cain’s plan would not pass, because no one supports a national sales tax. Huntsman would not do Cain’s tax plan, but instead something doable, like eliminating loopholes and deductions for individuals, as recommended by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission. Huntsman would also phase out corporate welfare and subsidies. He said he had a flat tax in Utah.

9-9-9 PLAN: Cain would throw out the entire tax code, including the progressive income tax, the capital gains tax, death taxes, and payroll taxes, and he would replace it with a 9-9-9 plan: 9% corporate business flat tax, 9% federal income tax, and 9% national sales tax. He was asked why Americans would be willing to pay more for bread and milk, under his new 9% national sales tax. He gave an incorrect answer, suggesting ordinary people are now paying 15.3%, when in fact they pay only 7.65%. He tried to suggest they would be save 6%. He thought people would have more for sales taxes, since they would pay less in payroll taxes. Cain also appeared ignorant of how Congress works, when he said he would ask them to require a 2/3rds vote before increasing any of his 999 taxes. He would need a Constitutional Amendment.

08/22/2011

Military Waste: Spending Taxes on Golf

When a friend showed me an ad placed by the U.S. Army seeking a “Professional Golf Management Trainee,” it reminded me of how much waste there is in the military budget.

This is no joke. The Army has a full-time permanent position for a golf trainee. The starting salary is up to $38,000, but the cost to us is much higher, as the position includes full benefits such as: health and life insurance, 401-K retirement, paid holidays, sick leave, vacation time, and possible student loan repayments. Many vacancies exist in the U.S., and relocation bonuses are possible.

The job is said to be “crucial to support military operations.”

Management trainees undergo 24 months of on-the-job training, and 12 months at an Army installation. The training varies by installation, but focuses on golf course and pro shop operations.

The trainee learns how golf courses operate. Training includes: 1) the conduct of play; 2) how to keep the facilities clean and safe; 3) how to make sure the course meets quality golf standards; 4) how the maintain relations with the grounds crew; 5) how to manage the golf cart fleet; and 6) how to oversee the food and beverage for outings and tournaments.

Along with college transcripts, a degree from a Professional Golf Association Management Program is required, along with three professional Letters of Recommendation.

The above is just one example of the waste in the military budget. Can you imagine what the right-wingers at Fox would say if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) considered golf “crucial” to their operations?

If the country is going to cut budgets, let’s not forget there are millions, and probably billions of dollars wasted each year by the military. Military budgets should never be off the table. The politicians should have the courage to examine their spending and eliminate wasteful expenditures not needed for national security.

07/14/2011

Debt Ceiling Plan is Unconstitutional

Since the federal government continues to spend more than it is receives in taxes, there is a serious U.S. Budget shortfall, which can only be corrected by raising taxes or by increasing the Debt Ceiling so more money can be borrowed.

Since the Republicans, who control the House, are refusing to raise any taxes, the only solution is to increase the Debt Ceiling. But they are promising not to do that either. They simply will not acknowledge that the wars President Bush started have cost the country vast sums of money, which must be paid through taxes.

Not wishing to accept responsibility for their irresponsible acts, Sen. Republican leader Mitch McConnell came up with a Debt Ceiling plan that would get the Republicans off the hook by allowing them to blame President Obama for the entire fiscal mess. Their plan is to delegate the ability to raise the Debt Ceiling to the President, so when the Debt Ceiling is raised, as it must be, the right-wingers will be able to blame it all on President Obama.

The plan is Karl Rove politics at its best. Unfortunately, the idea is unconstitutional. If the Republicans would read the U.S. Constitution, they would learn the power “to borrow money” is specifically delegated to the Congress (Art. I, Sec. 8). It is not a power assigned to the Executive. The Congress must approve of any measure to raise the debt. Any attempt to throw the hot potato to the President would violate the Constitution.

President Obama should veto any bill that attempts to shift from the Congress to the Executive the authority to raise taxes, or the power to borrow money. The debt ceiling hot potato must remain in the House, until they act like adults, take responsibility, and either significantly cut defense spending, or raise taxes to pay for the wars their party supported. Its time the House Republicans got serious about what must be done to avoid a national crisis.

07/13/2011

Social Security is a National “Debt”

The Republicans in the Congress are once again playing games regarding the National Debt ceiling and are confusing voters as to the obligations the government must pay to avoid a default.

Forty percent (40%) of the federal budget is wasted on interest payments towards the National Debt. This interest must be paid to avoid a default. A failure to pay these long-term obligations would cause catastrophic ripple effects worldwide.

Regarding the remaining 60% of the budget, Social Security retirement and Medicare also involve obligations that must be paid. Social Security is not a discretionary spending program. People paid into Social Security all their lives. If the federal government defaulted on it, they would breach the social contract made by the people who paid into the system since 1935. In terms of an obligation, Social Security retirement is no different than the 40% of the budget devoted toward paying interest.

Republicans have advanced the argument that if we raise the Debt Ceiling to continue paying the 40% owed to our lenders, we must cut Social Security. They have it wrong. We must pay both those who lent the government money, and the Social Security recipients who paid into the system.

Someone said if we continued paying the lenders their 40%, and the Social Security recipients the benefits to which they are entitled, there would be nothing left to cut but defense. So be it. If the Republicans oppose the idea of cutting defense, they have to then have the courage to raise taxes. The problem is they think we can maintain massive defense budgets, with troops around the world, without raising taxes. They make no sense.

Since the Republicans in the House stubbornly refuse to raise taxes to pay for the wars President Bush started, they leave the country no option, but to make massive cuts in defense.