Welfare Spending To Replace Military Spending, CBO Suggests.

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A study conducted by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has suggested that the push for cuts in Military spending are being fueled by a corresponding increase in welfare spending, specifically under the banner of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The cuts in military spending have been confirmed to involve a massive downsizing of the Army, retirement of the A-10 Warthog attack aircraft, and rumored cuts to benefits for military personnel.

As CNN reports:

Get real, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told America on Monday in proposing a scaled back, modern military…

“This is a budget that recognizes the reality of the magnitude of our fiscal challenges, the dangerous world we live in, and the American military’s unique and indispensable role in the security of this country and in today’s volatile world,” Hagel said in unveiling the Defense Department spending plan for 2015 and beyond.

“There are difficult decisions ahead,” he added. “That is the reality we’re living with.”

…All military forces, both active and reserve, would be cut under the budget plan.

It calls for reducing the Army to a level of 440,000 to 450,000 troops, which would be the lowest total in more than 70 years. At its height, the Army had 570,000 troops after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and currently has about 520,000.

His plan would retire the A-10, which Hagel called a 40-year-old, single-purpose aircraft designed for Cold War operations, at a cost savings of $3.5 billion over five years. Other provisions would reduce some benefits for military personnel, resulting in them having to shoulder more of their housing and medical costs. Reducing the federal subsidy to commissaries would mean smaller discounts for groceries on U.S. bases.

Now, as Fox News reports:

As the Obama administration announces proposed sweeping defense cuts, a Congressional Budget Office report documents how increases in other areas of domestic spending may be forcing the White House to reduce money for the military.

The CBO report finds that mandatory spending, which includes Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, is projected to rise $85 billion, or 4 percent, to $2.1 trillion this year.

Interest on the debt is worse. It is projected to increase 14 percent per year, almost quadrupling in dollar terms between 2014 and 2024. “We are going to be spending more in interest in a couple of years then we do on national defense,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., told Fox News.

Some Republican lawmakers are, as expected, sufficiently rankled by the defense cuts. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) derided the planned cuts, saying they do not make “strategic sense”. Senator John McCain called the cuts a “serious mistake”, acknowledging that  “[t]here are savings that could be made in defense, but when we’re making cuts this size, it concerns me a great deal, especially since we’re increasing domestic spending.

Attitudes never change in Washington. “Cuts for thee, but not for me.” Everyone in Washington claims they support sound budgetary practices. Everyone says they want to see a balanced budget. Everyone points to their opponent’s programs as ripe for the pruning. No politicians want to give up their political leverage with voters, and no voters want to lose their goodies. Everyone wants to see all other budgets slashed except their own. In general, Republicans never want to slash military spending, while Democrats never want to slash welfare spending.

It is interesting that no Republican lawmakers are attacking Social Security or Medicare directly. They hint only at vague “domestic spending”. The vast majority of this spending is thrown at Social Security and Medicare. Why are they purposefully ignoring the elephant in the room? Because Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are politically untouchable. These are the greatest sacred cows of them all. Any politician who dares approach significant cuts to these programs is tossed out on his or her can; the massive and powerful elderly voting bloc makes certain of that.

The ever-increasing liabilities of Social Security and Medicare are not going away. The programs are going to become more expensive every year. Even now, the unfunded liabilities of these programs are estimated at over $200 trillion. Anyone who thinks the government has enough long-term solvency to afford this is living in fantasy land. Medicare alone is probably the most expensive welfare program in the history of mankind. The costs are going to continue increasing. At least, until the US government defaults on these promises. I have discussed this here.

As long as Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid continue to lurch onward, other parts of the government will be forced to trim their budgets. It will be a step-by-step process, which has already begun: Salami Politics. The government will lop spending off bit by bit like a huge governmental salami, starting with programs whose constituency has less voting clout. All of these lesser agencies and programs will bicker amongst themselves for funding. All slicing of the figurative salami will be in ultimate defense of the American welfare state’s crown jewels: Social Security and Medicare. The tragic part is that the battle will be futile in the long run, anyway.

 

 

 

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