To Cut Defecit, American’s Support Full Withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, Raising Taxes on Rich: Bloomberg Poll
A New Bloomberg Poll reveals some important but often ignored sentiments of the American citizenry, by both the Republicans and Democrats. The poll’s author belittles the respondents, saying “Americans do not have a realistic picture of the budget,” evidenced by the majority of Americans’ demands for continued government services but only willing to make, what the pollster sees as, minimal concessions. This can be attributed more to the narrow set of solutions offered than the average citizen’s seemingly contradictory policy prescriptions.
Government Shutdown Opposed by Americans in Poll Faulting Republican Cuts
Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Heidi Przybyla, Bloomberg, Mar 8, 2011
Americans are sending a message to congressional Republicans: Don’t shut down the federal government or slash spending on popular programs.
Almost 8 in 10 people say Republicans and Democrats should reach a compromise on a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit to keep the government running, a Bloomberg National Poll shows. At the same time, lopsided margins oppose cuts to Medicare, education, environmental protection, medical research and community-renewal programs.
While Americans say it’s important to improve the government’s fiscal situation, among the few deficit-reducing moves they back are cutting foreign aid, pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and repealing the Bush-era tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000 a year…
…More than 7 in 10 respondents say slashing foreign aid and pulling troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan would result in substantial savings, and large majorities back such moves. Yet foreign aid accounts for about 1 percent of federal spending, and the Pentagon requested $159 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year, less than 5 percent of Obama’s $3.83 trillion federal budget.
Obviously the poll should have asked about defense cuts beyond just the enduring occupations. For example, to ask if Americans supported reducing the number of foreign military bases.
“It’s not easy to assess the size or exact value of our empire of bases. Official records on these subjects are misleading, although instructive. According to the Defense Department’s annual “Base Structure Report” for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and HAS another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require at least $113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases — surely far too low a figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most countries — and an estimated $591,519.8 million to replace all of them. The military high command deploys to our overseas bases some 253,288 uniformed personnel, plus an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense civilian officials, and employs an additional 44,446 locally hired foreigners. The Pentagon claims that these bases contain 44,870 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and that it leases 4,844 more.”
“A spokesman for the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) tells TomDispatch that there are, at present, nearly 400 U.S. and coalition bases in Afghanistan, including camps, forward operating bases, and combat outposts. In addition, there are at least 300 Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) bases, most of them built, maintained, or supported by the U.S.“
There is more that can, and needs, to be cut than solely the “overseas contingency operations.” By spreading out defense allocations to multiple departments, The $600+ billion defense budget is actually only HALF of U.S. defense related spending. This gives an incomplete view of how much resources are really being siphoned away from necessary government services that benefit the majority of the American population.
National Security Outlays in Fiscal Year 2009
—————————————————————————————(billions of dollars)
Department of Defense———————————————————–636.5
Department of Energy (nuclear weapons & environ. cleanup)———-16.7
Department of State (plus intern. assistance)——————————36.3
Department of Veterans Affairs————————————————-95.5
Department of Homeland Security———————————————51.7
Department of the Treasury (for Military Retirement Fund)————–54.9
National Aeronautics & Space Administration (1/2 of total)————–9.6
Net interest attributable to past debt-financed defense outlays——-126.3
Total——————————————————————————–1,027.5 +That’s almost $1.3 TRILLION! -PR+
Source: Author’s classifications and calculations; basic data from U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2011 and U.S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970. The Independent Institute: Defense Spending is Much Greater than You Think
Even though “foreign aid accounts for about 1 percent of federal spending” as the poll conductor claims, subsidizing arms sales is still taking billions of tax payer’s dollars out of government utilization. These subsidies end up being handouts to the defense industry as the money rarely leaves America’s shores, just being transferred from public coffers to private pockets. 1 percent is nothing to scoff at and still represents billions of dollars that could be better spent on social assistance than arming foreign militaries, not to mention the ethical questions raised by the horrendous military records of the top recipients.
“Of the top ten U.S. arms recipients in the developing world, five-Pakistan, Iraq, Israel, Egypt and Colombia-rely heavily on U.S. government subsidies to purchase U.S. weapons.” U.S. military aid to the top five countries “are as follows: Afghanistan ($29.7billion), Iraq ($27.9 billion), Israel ($21.6 billion), Egypt ($14.9 billion), and Pakistan ($9.7 billion).“
Its also possible to cut the costs of Medicare without cutting benefits, but that would require breaking the health insurance monopoly and introducing a public health system that more closely resembles that OF THE ENTIRE REST OF THE DEVELOPED WORLD.