Playing with Fire
Some Americans want to starve our cities, close our schools, and knock away the ladder that our children are supposed to climb to economic security. Your lawmakers may be among them.
Once the White House releases its proposed 2013 budget a free-for-all will ensue, as denizens of Capitol Hill compete for the titles of Biggest-Tax-Cutter and Baddest-Program-Slasher.
To appreciate how truly loony this is, consider how much we're already hurting.
U.S. cities and towns have fired half-a-million workers since 2008, and another quarter-million municipal employees may lose their jobs by the end of this year. Venice, Florida is losing its fire marshal, deputy fire chief, and fire inspector. San Jose, California may have to shut down all its libraries and community center programs. Gardner, Massachusetts has one clerk running its municipal grounds, parks, playgrounds, cemetery, forestry, flood control, insect control, golf course, and swimming pool. Fond du Lac, Wisconsin cut city inspectors, police, and crossing guards.
Los Angeles, like hundreds of other cities, is cutting back bus service and raising fares. Lincoln, Nebraska is deciding whether to close a fire station and leave one end of town without rapid fire and medical emergency responders. Baltimore has debated closing five of its firehouses. Other cities across the country are debating similar choices in their worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Our cities and towns need a helping hand from Washington. Instead, Congress is cutting funding they depend on. Under last year’s deficit-reduction deal, domestic spending is dropping about one-quarter from 2010 levels. Meanwhile, military spending, which is supposed to be cut equally, is barely being nicked.
Now a crack team led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) is trying to exempt the Pentagon from further cuts.
What are they thinking?
Just before Christmas, the Iraq War officially ended. That was a very important moment for millions of Iraqis and thousands of our soldiers and their families. It could have been an important moment for taxpayers too. The war cost us $800 billion, and we could do a lot with that kind of money.
But if McCain and McKeon have their way, our cities aren't going to be hiring back elementary school teachers, firefighters, or police offers, or providing more VA care to veterans or healthcare for millions of low-income kids. Instead, the Pentagon will continue to develop its F-35 stealth fighter, which costs $156 million per jet but can't provide a steady stream of oxygen to the pilot. It will continue to build a new fleet of aircraft carriers at $9 billion apiece when no other country in the world has more than one.
It will spend several hundred billion dollars "modernizing" a nuclear weapons stockpile that Washington has committed to reducing. It will build new military bases in places like South Korea and Guam, where people don't want them, even though the United States has more than 1,000 military installations around the world. We have so many overseas bases that there's no agreement on how to count them all.
The Pentagon can cut these programs and more without endangering our security or reducing healthcare and pensions for those serving in the military. In fact, we'll be safer if budget cuts force the Pentagon, Congress, and the White House to focus on programs that actually improve our well-being instead of trying to police every corner of the world. And we'll be a lot more secure if Washington shifts the savings to us and helps us get out of this Great Recession.
President Ronald Reagan had some advice for confronting bureaucracies like this: "Starve the beast."
It's time for those who call themselves Reagan's heirs to take his advice and put the Pentagon on a diet.
Mike Prokosch is the national coordinator of the New Priorities Network.
Read the latest political news.
- If American Manufacturers Keep Jobs, So Does Obama
- GOP Will Lose in 2012 if Social Issues Take Center Stage
- Why Looks Are Everything in a Presidential Election
- Swing Voters Need a Champion
- Good Businessmen Rarely Make Good Presidents
- Un-Presidential Primaries
- Inside Rick Santorum's Head
- Improving Economy Driving Independents Back to Obama
- The Federal Budget Is a Myth
- Don't Expect Too Much of the Next US President
- There's Still Potential for Palin Presidency
- Understanding the Real Mitt Romney
- A Pointed Comment on Ronald Reagan's Legacy
- Tim Tebow: Public Faith vs Private Faith
- Distorting Civil Rights History
- Obama Campaign: We'll Win Largest Latino Vote Percentage Ever
- Could High Gas Prices Hurt Obama's Reelection Campaign?
- Now the Santorum Option
- The GOP Race Gets Messy
- Buyer's Remorse Already?
- Mitt Romney is Dangerously Naive on Foreign Policy
- Concerning the Poor and Mitt Romney
- For Worse or For Worst, Guns Rule
- The Donald Backs The Mitt
- The Case for Mitt Romney
- Romney Running Against Economic Recovery
- Ron Paul's Appealing to Mormons
- Playing with Fire
- Profiting from the Pentagon
- Super PACs: Hypocrisy and Necessity
- The Sad Spectacle of Obama's Super PAC
- Obama Has It Right on Birth Control
- Save the Babies
- Republicans Enjoy the Health Care They'd Deny to the Rest
- War Through Weakness?
- Liberals are the True Aggressors in Culture Wars
- Nearing a Decision on Iran
- Newt Gingrich's Alinsky Claims Miss Their Mark
- Newt Gingrich's Secret Alinsky Love
- The un-Obama
- The President's 'Social Gospel'
- War Against Mexican Drug Cartels Needs New Focus
- Globalizing Private Sector, Government Overwhelmed by Corporate Money
- America's Constitutional Paralysis
- When It Comes to Taxes, No One Has Defined 'Fair'
- Mitt Romney is the Type Americans Want to Empower Economically
- A Flat Tax Is the Answer
- Punishing the Rich Is a Mistake
- Increase Capital Gains Tax, Decrease Corporate Tax
- Warren Buffett Is Right
- Europe Needs a Marshall Plan
- World Views: Niall Ferguson Interview
- Wealthy Tax Cheats
- The 1 Percent Candidate
- Larry Sabato Warns of Electoral 'Newt-Mare'
- The Hottest TV Drama in 2012
- Trailing Newt Gingrich Makes Plea for Votes
- Newt Gingrich Looks For Winning Strategy
- Eisenhower's 'Military-Industrial Complex' and JFK's Inaugural
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Those Who Hated Him
- Do All the GOP Debates Matter?
- Will Dems Call New Tax Law 'The Romney Rule?'
- 'Buffett Rule' Could Create Unintended Consequences
- Why Swing State Republican Governors Will Get Obama Re-Elected
- State of the Union Speech Focuses on Middle Class Success
- Will Obama's Mortgage Refinance Plan Be D.O.A.?
- State of the Union Shows Few Opportunities for Congressional Action
- Obama Uses State of the Union Speech to Rebuff GOP Attacks
- Obama Channels Clinton in State of the Union
- Obama Crafted a Winning Message
- Winning Words, But Not a Winner
- Obama's Speech Will Be Forgotten
- State of the Union Was Typical for Election Year
- Obama's State of the Union Failed
- Incumbents Have History on Their Side
- Obama's Side of the Nation's Story
- Justice John Paul Stevens on How the Supreme Court Works
- There Is a Judicial Confirmation Crisis and the GOP Is Causing It
Pentagon Budget Ends Post-9/11 Era:
Ushers in Pacific Era
- Senator Puts Nuclear Arsenal in Doubt
- Management Tips Mitt Romney Can Use to Save His Campaign
- Rick Santorum's New Target: Gingrich's Reagan Credentials
- GOP Not As Split as the Media Wants You to Think
- Primary Primer: 5 Things to Know about Florida
- On Courting Public Sentiment
- Ike's Lessons for Obama
- Bill Clinton Says Gingrich 'Just Like Romney'
- Newt Gingrich: Buying Our Future
- The Off-the-Radar Congressional Targets of 2012
- Green Energy Investments Pay Off in the Long Run
- Investment in Clean Energy Production Is a Must
- It's Up to the Private Sector to Invest in New Technology
- Competition, Not Handouts, Should Determine Role of Green Energy
- Government Has a History Supporting Emerging Industries
- Green Energy Dramatically Benefits the Nation
- Subsidies for Green Energy Do Not Help American Consumers
- Super PACs: Destroy Our Future
- Super PACs: Super-sized Influence, Super Lack of Transparency
- Super PACs Are a Form of Political Participation
- Super PACs Need to Disclose Political Activity
- Super PACs Engage in More Positive Than Negative Messaging
- Super PACs Enhance Democracy
- Super PACs Make It Harder for Average Americans to be Heard
- Super PACs Level the Playing Field
- Super PACs Promote Attack Ads and Special Interests
- Dollar Democracy
- 2012 Election Will Decide Which New Wars Will Be Waged
- Why 2012 Will Be Obama-Clinton vs Romney-Rubio
- Revenge of the Internet Nerds
- The Decline of Public Good
- We Must Reignite America's Can-Do Spirit
Free Enterprise on Trial:
Who Bears the Risks?
- Mitt Romney Goes on the Offensive
- Bain Capitalism
- How a Populist Obama Can Win
- Obama: A Question of Priorities
- Newtzilla Conquers All?
- Gingrich Follows GOP Playbook on Racism
- Newt Gingrich as Insurgent
- Newt Gingrich: It's Complicated
- Gingrich and The Politics of Division
- Ron Paul: The Great Contrarian
- Ron Paul and Louis Farrakhan - Birds of a Feather?
- Ron Paul's Kooky Moment
- Ron Paul: Foolish Consistency or Just Foolishness?
- Trying to Stop Mitt Romney
- Mitt Romney's Authenticity Problem
- Romney's Big Problem: Hispanic Voters
- Romney's Lies: Mitt Romney Has a Truth Problem
- Romney's Wealth and Influence on the Campaign Trail
- Mitt Romney: Electability vs Likability
- Romney's Backward Views on States Rights
- Mitt Romney Must Win Battle of the Bloat
- Mitt Romney: People Inc.
- The Luck of Mitt Romney
- Romney's 'Mormon Question'
- Would Today's GOP Elect Ronald Reagan?
- Defense Spending: A Shovel-Ready Investment
- Don't Die Stupid
- Three Conservative Victories
- Not By Sight, But By Faith
- To Spur Economy, United States Must Reform Legal Immigration
- Five Reasons Rick Perry Failed
- Overthrow Wall Street
- Civilization in Reverse
- Momentum of Cynicism
- China's JFK moment
Playing with Fire | Politics
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)