'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Second Reagan Revolution (Part 7) 

As advocated by David Leonhardt of the New York Times:

Democrats have more of a strategy — raising taxes on the rich and using health reform to reduce the growth of Medicare spending — but it is not nearly sufficient.

What would be? A plan that included a little bit of everything, and then some: say, raising the retirement age; reducing the huge deductions for mortgage interest and health insurance; closing corporate tax loopholes; cutting pensions of some public workers, as Republican governors favor; scrapping wasteful military and space projects; doing more to hold down Medicare spending growth.

Much of this may be unpleasant. But by no means will it doom us to reduced living standards or even slow economic growth. We can still afford to spend more on Medicare — even more per person — than we do today, and more on education, the military and other areas, too. We just can’t afford the unrealistic promises that the government has made. We need to make choices.

But, there is something missing here, what is it? Something has been, as they are now saying in the UK about the National Health Service, ring-fenced, meaning that it will relieved from the necessity of budget cuts. Let's look carefully, ah, yes, here's a clue: scrapping wasteful military and space projects.

Figured it out yet? Yes, you've got it. The purported war on terror, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and beyond. Trillions more for that, with only wasteful projects cut, while trillions are taken away from public sector workers, Medicare, middle income homeowners and pensioners. In the UK, a Tory-Liberal Democrat government ring-fences health care, whereas in the US, we ring-fence the military-industrial complex.

After all, someone has to pay for those drone strikes, and it can't be the people who profit most from them. For Leonhardt, unlike the effort to assist in the provision of the necessities of daily living, US militarism is not one of the unrealistic promises that government has made. Left unanswered is the extent to which consumer demand can survive such austerity and prevent a even greater decline in economic activity and government revenue.

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