Americans More Open to Defense Cuts than Others

Some interesting numbers out of the latest New York Times/CBS News poll:

In order to reduce the federal budget deficit, would you be willing or not willing for the government to decrease spending in areas such as health care or eduction?

Willing: 30 percent
Not willing: 62 percent 

In order to reduce the federal budget deficit, would you be willing or not willing to decrease military spending?

Willing: 45 percent
Not willing: 51 percent 

As is apparent above, there isn't a broad consensus decreasing defense spending -- but relative to spending on social programs, Americans are significantly more open to such cuts to the military. Indeed, these numbers suggest that the theory that Americans want to address the federal deficit by slashing spending on just about anything except national defense may be not only incorrect but even completely backwards.

Americans More Open to Defense Cuts than Others

Some interesting numbers out of the latest New York Times/CBS News poll:

In order to reduce the federal budget deficit, would you be willing or not willing for the government to decrease spending in areas such as health care or eduction?

Willing: 30 percent
Not willing: 62 percent 

In order to reduce the federal budget deficit, would you be willing or not willing to decrease military spending?

Willing: 45 percent
Not willing: 51 percent 

As is apparent above, there isn't a broad consensus decreasing defense spending -- but relative to spending on social programs, Americans are significantly more open to such cuts to the military. Indeed, these numbers suggest that the theory that Americans want to address the federal deficit by slashing spending on just about anything except national defense may be not only incorrect but even completely backwards.

10 Stats Every American Should Know

Here are 10 stats I think every American should know before they vote in this year’s mid-term election:

$12.3 Trillion: America’s national debt.

1st: Rank of China as the largest foreign holder of America’s debt.

There's more...

Senate votes down deficit-cutting commission

Yesterday, while debating a bill to raise the debt ceiling, the Senate rejected an amendment to "establish a Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action, to assure the long-term fiscal stability and economic security of the Federal Government of the United States, and to expand future prosperity and growth for all Americans."

President Barack Obama supported creating that commission, which is the brainchild of Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad. The goal is to find some way to get big Social Security and Medicare cuts through Congress. Don't get me started on why a Democratic president and a bunch of Democratic senators are so keen on cutting the most successful programs Democrats have ever enacted.

Anyway, Conrad's idea was for the commission to work out a comprehensive deficit reduction strategy, which Congress would be not be empowered to amend before voting on it. Two decades ago, a similar procedure was developed for recommending military base closings to Congress.

Conrad's amendment failed on a bipartisan 53-46 vote. 36 Democrats, 16 Republicans and Joe Lieberman voted for creating the deficit reduction commission, while 22 Democrats, 23 Republicans and Bernie Sanders voted no (roll call here). Bloomberg News reported,

Conrad’s idea was attacked from the left and right, with groups such as the Washington-based anti-tax Americans for Tax Reform saying it would mean higher taxes while the AFL-CIO and NAACP said it would lead to cuts in federal benefits.

It was also opposed by lawmakers who lead congressional committees with authority over tax and spending programs. Among them are Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana, Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Tom Harkin of Iowa, head of the health-care panel.

Senate Republican Conference Chair Lamar Alexander told Politico that Obama needs to "produce a Democratic majority in favor of" this idea if he wants more Republicans to vote for it.

During tonight's State of the Union address, Obama is expected to announce plans to create his own deficit reduction commission. Bloomberg noted yesterday that "Such a panel’s recommendations ordinarily could be ignored by lawmakers, although Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, is trying to negotiate an agreement to guarantee a vote."

Too bad the wrong North Dakota Democrat is retiring from the Senate.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

Barack Herbert Hoover Obama

Please tell me our president is smarter than this:

President Obama will propose freezing non-security discretionary government spending for the next three years, a sweeping plan to attempt deficit reduction that will save taxpayers $250 billion over 10 years.

When the administration releases its budget next week, the discretionary spending for government agencies from Health and Human Services to the Department of Treasury will be frozen at its 2010 level in fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013. [...]

Exempted from the freeze would be Pentagon funding, and the budgets for Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security.

Instead of delivering his State of the Union address this week, Barack Obama may as well hold up a big sign that says, "I want Democrats to lose Congress." Over at Daily Kos, eugene explains why:

That will be the equivalent of FDR's boneheaded move in 1937 to pull back on government spending. The result was a major recession that caused conservatives to win a lot of seats in the 1938 election and brought the New Deal to an end.

Yet FDR had already won his second term. Obama, on the other hand, is embracing a policy that has been proven to fail even before the midterm elections.

If he thinks this is even a realistic or economically feasible policy, he is out of his mind. If he thinks this will save his and Democrats' political bacon, he is very badly mistaken. Only greater government spending - MUCH greater spending - will pull us out of recession, create jobs, and produce lasting recovery.

Without greater spending, Obama is implying he is willing to live with high unemployment for the remainder of his first term. If one wanted to deal with the deficit, he could follow Bill Clinton's model of producing economic growth that would close the deficit in future years.

Economically, this course would be a disaster, but politically it's even a worse move. During the presidential campaign, Obama promised hundreds of times that we would be able to spend more on various domestic priorities because we wouldn't be spending $200 billion a year in Iraq. With the escalation in Afghanistan, the combined cost of our commitments there and in Iraq will now exceed Bush administration levels, and Obama isn't cutting fat from other areas in the Pentagon budget to make up for it.

It's as if he wants Democrats to stay home this November.

Obama told Diane Sawyer today, "I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president." If he follows through on a spending freeze he'll be neither.

UPDATE: So some people are claiming this is no big deal because the spending freeze isn't an across-the-board freeze, "would apply to a relatively small portion of the federal budget" and locks in a bunch of spending increases from last year. I am not interested in endlessly increasing the defense budget while holding the line on the EPA, Energy, Transportation, HUD and other areas. That's not the agenda Obama campaigned on, and it's not smart from any perspective.

Chris Bowers raises a better point, which is that "the people who actually write spending bills--members of the House Appropriation and Budget committees--say they won't be freezing or cutting social spending." So this is just window dressing for the State of the Union to show the wise men of the beltway that Obama is very, very concerned about the deficit. Still not the kind of leadership we need from our president.

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