Sunday, February 12, 2012

President Obama's 2013 Budget

President Obama shows his absolute brilliance with his 2013 Budget Proposal. Included in that proposal are yet more cuts to the Defense Department. Meanwhile Robert Kagan over at the Wall Street Journal explains pretty clearly my view on why America needs to stay at the forefront of global policy through military strength and not diplomacy through promises. I've had that conversation with various Ron Paul supporters on a regular basis, but I can't seem to get my point across as clearly as he does.

The military can definitely use some looking at as far as processes are concerned, but straight reduction in budget forcing cuts without a look at those processes first, and how to streamline them, is just stupid. It will take us a decade or more to build up to the level of strength required if there is a large war, which history has shown occurs pretty regularly when there isn't someone holding a hammer over the rest of the world to make sure they behave. As the President he can order a review of those processes and look for ways to improve them, then you take the money saved from that to reduce the budget and nothing is really lost.

Instead we're cutting back on research and development, reducing the available system upgrades, and massively downsizing our available ground forces. We're just going to end up having to do it all over again when the next 9-11 occurs, or the next World War. Instead of focusing on cutting our own Defense funding, we should be focusing on sources of funding for the various terrorist organizations and cutting those.

(Added Feb 13, 2012)

So, some more information on President Obama's 2013 budget. First, it includes $1.4 Trillion in new taxes. Next, it forcibly increases the cost of travel by about $5 a bag each way (for going through security), and on top of that the administration wants to add a $100 departure fee to the airlines, business jets, and other aircraft to cover FAA air traffic control costs. The additional bag fees are a stupid idea, travel is already getting ridiculously expensive as it is, on top of that you have the $100 cost (they don't say if it's per flight or per passenger, or if it will vary by size of the plane) which is just absurd. At least with the security the airports can opt out of using the TSA and go with a private security company (at least until the TSA starts denying requests again), but this is not the case with the Air Traffic Controllers. ATC workers have a national union, you must be a union member to work as one, and airports have no choice but to hire union ATCs.

So a public sector union is in complete control of an industry, and the government's solution to offset costs is to force airlines to help pay for it, rather than removing the requirement that ATCs be government employed union workers. It makes no sense from a monetary viewpoint to not allow privately hired traffic controllers, they still would need the same license and certification requirements, and it would completely remove the burden from the government budget. This is why I hate public sector unions, they are only accountable to the government (rather than the people who actually pay their paychecks with tax money), and anyone that doesn't want to go along with them is threatened with being shut down, jail time, or worse because governments have nearly unlimited resources compared to even the richest citizens.

The majority of services the government provides can be privatized and turned into an actual profitable enterprise, or allowed to sink; either way the bill to private citizens for services they don't want and don't use goes down.


(Added Feb 14, 2012)

So, more fuel to the fire. I love how the article blames the Pentagon for being honest about what it'll take in force reductions to meet the President's 2013 Budget. A drawdown of about 2% across the board for 2013 may not seem like much until you realize the entire plan calls for over 123,000 troops in the next 5 yrs out of jobs in a crappy economy (see my article, , for why the unemployment numbers are bull).

They try to compare it to the troop reductions post Cold War, but there is one huge problem with that comparison. The economy was booming at the time, so getting out and getting a civilian job, while still a difficult transition, was not a horrible prospect while it is now. At least the writers of the article were honest enough to point out that most of the reductions tend to come from lower ranking folks rather than the host of flag general officers we seem to keep getting. I doubt most of them would notice their secretary's weren't there anymore if it weren't for the lack of coffee in the morning. But that's okay, they'll just get the new lowest ranking guy to do it (they must be getting up to O-5's and 6's by now).

The Pentagon says they'll focus on those already at retirement or offering early retirement to folks, but the brass obviously still doesn't have a clue how that will affect the lower ranks. Especially since they won't bother to look at something like troop morale and effectiveness when determing who they're going to force out, they'll use the standard metric of seniority. They'll go with the guy who can retire that has the least time in and get rid of him.

Then you have this little nugget. What the AP fails to mention with those Bush-era tax cuts is that they also include cuts for middle and low income households, not just the rich that Obama rails against. He shouts at Republicans in public for supporting "tax breaks for the rich" while also saying they need to vote to keep in place current tax cuts so income taxes don't increase on middle-class Americans, and purposely leaves out the fact that IT'S THE SAME BILL. The same tax cuts that the Republican House voted to keep in place for a year that were then rejected by Senator Harry Reid and the Democrat controlled Senate. What is sad is that people actually believed the MSM rhetoric blaming the Republicans for the issue going right up to the deadline. The bill had already been passed in the House with the 1-year extension, it was the Democrats that refused to pass it and forced only a 2-month extension necessitating the need for another vote on the issue here in the next few weeks.

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