Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Defense Spending

Fed Transcripts from 2008 Reveal Experts to be Clueless and Confused

English: President Barack Obama confers with F...

President Barack Obama confers with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke following their meeting at the White House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Followers of the Fed have carefully analyzed the 1,865 pages of transcripts it released in February of its eight regularly scheduled meetings and six emergency meetings in 2008 and have concluded that these experts were clueless and unaware of the opening economic abyss yawning before them. Even the New York Times was forced to admit, following its review of the documents, that

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Sequester cuts and the military services

Yesterday I wrote critically of the excessive hyperbole surrounding the impact of the sequester on government spending. Yesterday I was reminded that the cuts weren’t going to be applied equally across the board to government spending but would instead be

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A Rand Paul/Mike Lee Ticket for 2016?

Bernie Quigley, writing at the Pundit’s Blog for The Hill on Wednesday, considered the fiscal cliff bill that became the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) as a “touchstone…a benchmark…to mark the progress of history.” He considers the law as a

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Senator Coburn: “The DOD is the ‘Department of Everything’”

What Freedom Looks Like

(Photo credit: Roger Smith)

Following his office’s publishing of his annual “Wastebook” last month, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has now released another oversight report, this one exploring waste and “non-defense” spending in the Department of Defense (DOD), entitled the “Department of Everything.”

In his “Wastebook” Coburn concluded that “all the outrageous and wasteful contents of this report were made possible by either the action or lack of action of Congress, earning it the well-deserved but unwanted distinction as the biggest waste of taxpayer money in 2012.”  Right behind the Congress, however, is the Department of Defense, which has been spending taxpayer monies on projects, programs and plans not related to the DOD’s primary function: defending the republic.

Although he thinks potential savings could exceed $70 billion over the next ten years if all of his suggestions were implemented, he also says that his report has just skimmed the surface, and savings could be much larger. He stated:

I prepared this report because the American people expect the Pentagon’s $600 billion annual budget to go toward our nation’s defense.

That isn’t happening. Billions of defense dollars are being spent on programs and missions that have little or nothing to do with national security, or are already being performed by other government agencies. Spending more on grocery stores than guns doesn’t make any sense. And using defense dollars to run microbreweries, study Twitter slang, create beef jerky, or examine Star Trek does nothing to defend our nation.

These are actual programs he and his staff uncovered by asking three simple questions:

  1. Does the mission of this program or agency directly relate to the mission of the Department of Defense?
  2. Does another federal agency or government or private entity already provide the services provided by this program or agency?
  3. Could these resources be better targeted towards higher priority defense needs, such as taking care of troops on the front lines or reducing our $16 trillion national debt?

What he and his staff found was merely a smattering, a skimming, a “starting point for reviewing Pentagon spending that is unnecessary, wasteful or simply not related to defense.”  He calls this wasteful spending a “rising tide of the red [ink] menace.” Here is some of what they uncovered:

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No Defense Spending Cuts

English: Explosive Ordnance Disposal 1st Class...

Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that we are focusing on life after the election, the fiscal cliff looms. And if Congress does nothing, the military budget will be “slashed” – by some $50 billion or so a year. That’s about 7 percent of the total military budget.

That will never happen. Congress will not allow it. The New York Times says so. Aaron O’Connell, author of the Op-Ed piece appearing there on Sunday, is a history professor at the Naval Academy and a Marine reserve officer. So he writes from the inside, and with a bias. But he thinks the militarization of the country is permanent. He starts with President Eisenhower‘s warning about the military-industrial complex in 1961:

[Eisenhower] worried that the defense industry’s search for profits would warp foreign policy and, conversely, that too much state control of the private sector would cause economic stagnation. He warned that unending preparations for war were incongruous with the nation’s history. He cautioned that war and war making took up too large a proportion of national life, with grave ramifications for our spiritual health.

He notes that the US spends $700 billion on defense, which is half of all military spending in the world! – but it’s only about 5 percent of

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Taxmageddon Only Part of the Problem

Explosion

Explosion (Photo credit: Freidwall)

The Heritage Foundation went to the trouble of calculating exactly what will happen to the tax liabilities of taxpayers if Taxmageddon stays in place after the first of the year. Accordingly to Amy Payne, “Taxmageddon” is the

horrifying combination of expiring pro-growth tax policies from 2001 and 2003, the end of the once-temporary payroll tax cut, and just a few of Obamacare’s 18 new tax hikes…

Taxmageddon will be the largest tax increase EVER to hit Americans. It’s nearly $500 billion in one year, starting January 1. That’s two months away.

Here is Heritage’s breakdown of Taxmageddon’s impact on Americans:

  • Families with an average income of $70,662: tax increase of $4,138
  • Baby boomers with an average income of $95,099: tax increase of   $4,223
  • Low-income workers with an average income of $24,757: tax increase of $1,207
  • Millennials with an average income of $23,917: tax increase of $1,099
  • Retirees with an average income of $42,553: tax increase of $857

But even this fails to measure the real impact of Taxmageddon starting January 1. It’s that most of the tax increases will be borne by s

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The Inevitable Tax Increase No One Is Talking About

Social Security (play)

Social Security (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s zero likelihood that this tax increase will be stopped. No one wants to talk about it. It has been avoided in the debates like the plague. No politician who I know of has mentioned it. It has public support from those who are dependent on it. Resistance is futile.

It’s the Social Security payroll tax increase that happens on January 1st – the end of the two-year “tax holiday” that was designed to give relief and stimulate the economy. It didn’t and it hasn’t and so it will come:

A temporary reduction in Social Security payroll taxes is due to expire at the end of the year and hardly anyone in Washington is pushing to extend it. Neither Obama nor Romney has proposed an extension, and it probably wouldn’t get through Congress anyway, with lawmakers in both parties down on the idea.

Those representing the recipients support the increase, naturally:

They are backed by powerful advocates for seniors, including AARP, who adamantly oppose any extension.

My dad referred to the AARP as “the old folks’ labor union.”  It sells insurance to its members. In 2008 it received $650 million in royalties and another $120 million in advertising from various insurance companies who sell Medicare supplements and long-term care plans to its members. Its membership is 40 million. Its political clout is

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Romney Exposes Himself (Politically, That Is)

Romney Ryan Plan for Student Loans

Romney Ryan Plan (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

John Hawkins has, unintentionally I’m sure, done Romney skeptics like me a world of good. By taking snippets from the three “debates” of Romney’s comments, Hawkins has put to rest any idea that Romney is a conservative, or even coherent.

Try this one:

If I become president, I’ll get America working again. I will get us on track to a balanced budget. The president hasn’t. I will.

I’ll make sure we can reform Medicare and Social Security to preserve them for coming generations. The president said he would. He didn’t.

Clever wordplay. I don’t believe a word of it.

First, the balanced budget. Let’s see: the government is currently spending $3.7 trillion a year, and running deficits of $1 trillion. A balanced budget, to me at least, means Romney intends to

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Fiscal Cliff, Fiscal Gap, Lame Duck Congress

Lame Duck

Lame Duck (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

Private congressional conversations about how to keep the country from racing off the fiscal cliff in January are already taking place in Washington, but few are willing to give many details. With the promise of anonymity, congressional staffers from both sides of the aisle are working feverishly to come up with solutions to the onrushing fiscal train wreck.

Investigator Richard Rubin, writing for Bloomberg, said the Republicans are building a “toolbox” of options — including raising taxes — that could be used during the lame duck session following Election Day. Which tools will be used depends on how the elections turn out. Likewise, Democrat staffers are developing their game plans as well, but tax cuts are not in their “toolbox” according to unnamed parties familiar with the discussions.

Which tools each side will be using depends upon if the Democrats retain control of the Senate and the White House, but fail to gain control of the House. If Romney wins, and the Senate goes Republican, then

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Unnecessary F-35 Program Won’t Be Cut

Washington Times: Neither Obama nor Romney has realistic plan to tame cost of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the white whale of the Defense Department—a stealth jet designed to work for all branches of the armed forces—but at a total cost of $1.5 trillion, it’s also a program that analysts say is an epic boondoggle that neither President Obama nor his GOP challenger, Mitt Romney, has a realistic plan to get under control.

F-35 Lightning II completes Edwards testing

F-35 Lightning II completes Edwards testing (Photo credit: MultiplyLeadership)

This is how business is done in Washington: notice that “neither President Obama nor…Mitt Romney, has a realistic plan” to rein in this monstrosity. No one is out there debating whether the program is needed: that part is assumed. Once again it’s the Hegelian dialectic at work: controlling the conversation so that real alternatives aren’t even discussed.

But the F-35 is just the tip of the iceberg:

What’s worse is that the F-35 is just the tip of the iceberg in what many describe as a sea of waste and mismanagement surrounding the weapons acquisition system at the Pentagon. Even the department’s inspector general says it simply cannot be audited.

“I’ve been involved in this since the ’60s and I’ve never seen it so badly managed as it was up until very recently,” said Larry Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who served as an assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan.

Mr. Robert Welch, the founder of the John Birch Society, said it so many years ago: the purpose of government is to spend as much money as possible as wastefully as possible. The F-35 is one but unfortunately not the only example.

Here’s what Mittens told a potential voter about the F-35 program. Read it and weep:

“I was a little disappointed to see the president pull back on the F-35 program,” Mr. Romney said.

Yup. Romney, the good conservative.

Taxmageddon Confrontation Has Already Begun

Taxes

Forty-one Senate Republicans sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week urging him and Senate Democrats to start addressing “taxmageddon”—the impending tax hikes that will drain $500 billion out of the economy every year starting January 1st, unless something is done:

It is essential that Congress and the president address these coming tax increases this summer, rather than creating additional uncertainty for families and job creators by waiting until the last possible minute. The time to begin is now.

[If nothing is done] this would be, without any exaggeration, the largest tax increase in American history.

House Speaker John Boehner, on ABC’s This Week, added:

We’re looking at the largest tax increase in American history on January the 1st. We’re looking at big cuts to our Department of Defense. And we’re looking at an increase in the debt limit. Why do we want to wait to rush this through at the end of the year after the election?

Speaking for the Democrats, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) drew the line in the sand

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Boehner Fires First Salvo in Taxmageddon Wars

U.S. President is greeted by Speaker of the Ho...

House speaker John Boehner decided on Tuesday to fire the first round in the coming battle to deal with the huge tax increases taking place after the first of the year (“Taxmageddon”) by setting the terms for the debt ceiling debate. In a speech at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2012 Fiscal Summit in Washington Boehner said that any discussion would revolve around his “Boehner principle”—every dollar of additional debt increase for the federal government must be matched by an equal or greater reduction in government spending.

Said Boehner:

When the time comes, I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase. This is the only avenue I see right now to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance…

Just so we’re clear, I’m talking about real cuts and reforms—not these tricks and gimmicks that have given Washington a pass on grappling with its spending problem…

Previous Congresses have encountered lesser precipices with lower stakes and made a beeline for the closest lame-duck escape hatch. Let me put your mind at ease. This Congress will not follow that path, not if I have anything to do with it.

Democrats immediately fired back. White House spokesman Jay Carney called Boehner’s remarks as inviting brinkmanship similar to that last summer that resulted in an increase of the debt ceiling along with some future spending cuts. Said Carney: 

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The Budget Battle: Entitlements Staying, Taxes Going Up

When Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Chairman of the House Budget Committeesummarized his tax and spend plan, he used standard Republican rhetoric in explaining it.

He claimed, “Our budget

  • Cuts government spending to protect hardworking taxpayers;
  • Put[s] an end to special-interest favoritism and corporate welfare;
  • Reverses the President’s policies that drive up gas prices…;
  • Strengthens health and retirement security…[and]
  • Reforms our broken tax code to spur job creation and economic opportunity by lowering rates, closing loopholes, and putting hardworking taxpayers ahead of special interests.”

In his introduction to the bill, he inveighed images of the Founding Fathers, who no doubt would have heartily approved of his efforts: “The Founders [designed] a Constitution of enumerated powers, giving the federal government broad authority over only those matters that must have a single national response, while sharply restricting its authority to intrude on those spheres of activity better left to the states and the people.” By using his interpretation, rather any reference directly to what the Constitution actually says, Ryan then goes on to assure his party that

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Bill of Rights Day: Celebration or Mourning?

English: The Bill of Rights, the first ten ame...

The Cato Institute’s newspaper ad reminding citizens that December 15th was Bill of Rights Day summarized the desperate shape those first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States is in, thanks to an overweening government and an uninformed citizenry. Reviewing each of the amendments, Cato pointed  to specific infringements of each of them, concluding that “It’s a disturbing picture, to be sure, but not one the Framers of the Constitution would have found altogether surprising. They would sometimes refer to written constitutions as mere “parchment barriers” [to totalitarian government].

The erection of the original “parchment barrier,” the Bill of Rights, was initially considered unnecessary because the language of the Constitution explicitly enumerated limited powers to the newly created government and why should further protections against powers not even granted be needed? As “Brutus,” one of the authors of the Anti-Federalist Papers, wrote: 

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Options After the Supercommittee Failure

Newly Released Superman Returns Logo

Barring a miracle, the Supercommittee will announce Monday morning its failure at coming up with legislation to reduce the projected combined federal budget deficits over 10 years by $1.2 trillion, or $120 billion per year, starting in January 2013. Without enactment of these cuts, under the Budget Control Act the automatic option, called a sequester, will kick in, with $600 billion of the $1.22 trillion in cuts coming from defense spending. Social Security, Medicaid, and other low-income programs are exempt from the cuts, and cuts to Medicare would be modest.

Of course, there is the slim possiblity that the Supercommittee could come up with the cuts, in which case Congress would be expected to vote the legislation up or down without amendment. There are other possibilities too. The Supercommittee could “split the baby” and come up with a bipartisan deal that cuts less than the $1.2 trillion, leaving Congress to find the balance before the automatic cuts kick in. The Supercommittee could even hand Congress a package that includes tax increases as well as spending cuts.

But as of this writing, these possibilities appear unlikely. What appears more likely to happen is that, following a failure of the Supercommittee to present a bill, Congress will

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Supercommittee Stalls with the Clock Ticking

An F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, marked AA-1, lan...

With five weeks to go to create an agreement that will cut at least $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next ten years, there are few indications that the Supercommittee will propose anything substantial.

Despite demands from the co-chairs of the committee, Senators Patty Murray and Jeb Hensarling, that members not speak publicly about their work, Robert Pear, writing for the New York Times, was able to glean some insight into any progress the committee is making. According to a person working for the committee, members are “still hovering at 30,000 feet,” with no landing field in sight. Members are still asking,

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“Extremist” Presidential Candidate Ron Paul

Ron Paul at the 2007 National Right to Life Co...

Image via Wikipedia

Claiming that presidential candidate Ron Paul leads the “economic suicide wing” of the Republican Party, Brent Budowsky, writing for The Hill, says that Paul is the “worst possible role model” for Republicans because he suggested that a default by the government “would be OK.” Budowsky calls Paul a “Banana Republican,” claiming that Paul is taking an extremist position, adding that keeping the debt ceiling in place and putting the government on a diet would “literally crash American and global markets…that would do grave damage to our nation.”

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Treasury Secretly Exploring Options if Debt Ceiling Isn’t Raised

Credit cards

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Unnamed White House and U.S. Treasury sources told MoneyNews.com that options to handle the government’s debts in the event no debt ceiling deal is reached are being explored, despite official protestations to the contrary.

Mary Miller, Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets, is in charge of paying the government’s bills, and on June 21 she repeated the party line in London to bankers holding substantial American debt that there is no “Plan B,” assuring them that the debt limit would be raised before August 2. Official Treasury spokeswoman Colleen Murray expressed practically the same thing:

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How the Heritage Foundation Plans to Save the American Dream

Stars and Stripes, NYSE

Image by Robert Scarth via Flickr

When Peter G. Peterson sold his interest in his investment company the Blackstone Group in 2007, he took $1 billion of his gains to fund his foundation, which has concentrated on creating awareness of the dangers of deficits and the national debt in the United States. One of his recent grantees is The Heritage Foundation, which was tasked with the challenge of developing a plan and a strategy to put the country back on a sustainable and responsible fiscal path. Similar grants were given to The American Enterprise Institute, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Center for American Progress, the Economic Policy Institute, and the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network.

“Saving the American Dream” is Heritage’s entry, which will be presented at

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Boehner Caught in the Middle

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Image by SpeakerBoehner via Flickr

House Speaker John Boehner’s speech to the Economic Club of New York on Monday night revealed much about the pressures he is facing in the fight over increasing the debt ceiling. In attendance were investors, bankers, and other Wall Street suits looking for reassurance that Congress wasn’t going to spoil their party by taking away their punch bowl of profligate government spending, but also that any cuts in spending would be modest and deferred into the future. Such reassurance would

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.