Playing Politics With $642 Billion
Whats worse than playing politics? Playing politics with your money. The Republican controlled House ignored a Presidential veto threat and approved a budget breaking deal. The $642 billion defense budget (NDAA 2013) authorized Friday breaks a deficit cutting deal that Republicans were in favor of just last year. The new budget will, if left unchanged, also restrict the Presidents authority as Commander in Chief. The Republicans who are always keen to jump to the defense of defense stuck to their guns on highly controversial provisions as they try to play themselves off as stronger on defense than President Obama. Even the military opposes some of the additions.
The House voted 299-120 for the fiscal 2013 spending blueprint that authorizes money for weapons, aircraft, ships and the war in Afghanistan which is $8 billion more than Obama and congressional Republicans agreed to last summer. The added cost comes from calls to construct a missile defense site on the East Coast that the military opposes, bars reductions in the nation’s nuclear arsenal and reaffirms the indefinite detention without trial of suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens captured on American soil. The Republicans are so strong on defense that they even go above and beyond what the military wants.
The Democratically controlled Senate is predicted to scoff at most of the added provisions and is expected to erase many of them before it heads to the President. Thankfully the checks and balances system still exists.
Leon Panetta met with Republicans last week to push Obama’s proposed budget and to ensure them that this is the right direction for the country. Obama’s budget shifts military focus from solely on terrorism to the bigger threats of today including Asia, the Mideast and cyberspace as the nation emerges from two long wars. However as with the Republicans social strategy, Republicans would also like to see America’s military strategy stay in the 1950′s.
Republicans are always ready to call for increases in defense spending even when the nation is broke because most Republican politicians within Congress are owned by the defense corporations who dominate the jobs market in their home states. While this budget proposal is no doubt a shot at Obama it is also a sign that national defense is what keeps the Republicans alive. If the defense budget is cut then that could mean job losses in Republican controlled states and that could in turn mean a loss of seats for Republicans in Congress. This is a two pronged attack at President Obama’s foreign and domestic policy. They want to appear stronger on defense and they want to show that they care about jobs – jobs vital to the nation at that.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 totals $554 billion, including nuclear weapons spending, plus $88 billion for the war in Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts.
New cold war?
Is something going on in Russia that the public is unaware of? Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has declared Russia to be Americas number 1 enemy, completely bypassing China, and now the Republicans seem to be backing him on that. In an effort to revive cold war arguments the Republicans rejected the notion that Senate ratification of an arms control treaty with Russia in December 2010 has long been settled and that the president has the authority to enforce the pact. Do the Republicans want another nuclear arms race with the
USSR Russia? While the rest of the world tries to reduce the possibility of nuclear war, the Republicans in America want to increase the odds. Joseph McCarthy would be proud.
Also contained within the budget was a section that authorized the use of force if Iran threatens the United States and her allies with nuclear weapons.
The House legislation would require the US military to prepare a plan to boost the presence of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in the Middle East, and conduct military exercises “or other visible, concrete military readiness activities”. These force readiness operations which are not currently being conducted would mean that the defense bill for 2014 would have to be larger to accommodate the cost of such exercises. During a time of economic uncertainty should the United States be playing chicken with a rogue nation? Should we be passing legislation that makes us look like a bully? Should Republicans be making political statements with $642 billion in cash?