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Plus Ca Change? It Won't be the Same Thing

03 Nov 2010
Posted by Gordon Adams

The results yesterday bring a big change, but not the change observers think when it comes to the defense budget. 

For the defense committees, ideology will rear a powerful head, and the rhetorical and political battles over DADT, Afghanistan, the New START treaty,  missile defense, China, Iran, and the Middle East will all provide powerful headlines and verbal fisticuffs. 

But when it comes to budgets, the departure of Ike Skelton and the arrival of the Republicans at the helm of authorizing and appropriating committees simply mean "business as usual." 

The new leadership in defense supports high defense budgets; the old one did, too.  They will lobby for earmarks for their pet rocks and their districts; the old ones did, too.  Tea Party preferences on earmarks won't be likely to stop the old guard.

But there is a difference.  It is outside the defense world and the defense committees, but very rooted in the policy preferences of the new conservatives.  They want smaller government, and they want it now.  They want lower taxes, and they want them now.  They want a balanced budget, now. 

And they don't own the political machinery.  That's the key.  To get anywhere close to conservative fiscal goals, they are going to have to cut a deal.  It is clear the administration is prepared to deal.  It is equally clear the Democrats in the Congress want to deal.  But a deal is only possible if everything is on the table, as the Rivlin-Domenici and the President's budget commissions have been signalling for months, and are  likely to report this month and next.  And the Tea Party crowd is not rock solid that defense should get a pass.

And that puts defense on the table, along with mandatories, revenues, and domestic discretionary spending.  Look for a "bye" in the lame duck, with a year-long CR or a quick, steady level omnibus for the year, to get the old crowd out of Dodge.  Then prepare for a wrangle on FY 2012, that puts it all up for grabs.  Defense will not escape, and the best efforts of DOD and the committee defenders of the faith to keep it off the table will fail, or there will be no deal.

Could be interesting.  But it is not Kansas, any more.

Says who?

"the Tea Party crowd is not rock solid that defense should get a pass"

Really, who? Other than the establishment GOP and pundits talking for the tea party, when have you seen actual "members" talk about defense or foreign policy?
The interviews I see with people on the street tend to follow the same script: "We're being taxed to death," "fire Nancy Pelosi," or the HCR debacle.

The lack of attention paid by the voters and the media to defense and veterans issues this election has been appalling. So much partisan talk about the debt has filled the echo chamber while ignoring debate about the largest chunk of discretionary spending.

In the mean time, young voters like myself have been ignored as well. Instead we've seen nothing but scare tactics from both sides aimed strictly at the elderly voters saying their Medicare/SS is going to be cut/privatized/whatever..

I have zero doubt that hundreds of billions of dollars we borrow from foreigners will be found to continue failed policies overseas while veterans coming home get the shaft. In the mean time, I'll be saving my GI Bill checks in case of a dog and pony show government shutdown.

Pro tea party spokespeople

Pro tea party spokespeople like Palin have repeatedly stated that defense spending is "off the table" when it comes to budget cuts.

Anyone complaining that they are being "taxed to death" or "taxed enough already" by the federal government under Obama is either an ignorant fool or dishonest. Federal income tax rates are the lowest they've been since pre WW2.

09's median household income was $49,777
Standard deduction: married was $11,400; single $5,450
Exemption per person was $3,650

A median income married couple with no kids (that aren't eligible for the myriad of tax credits available) would only pay $3,827 in federal income tax. That's less than 7.7% of their taxable income.

Republicans will not

Republicans will not significantly cut spending. They'll cut taxes and they'll let the stimulus spending expire and call that a spending cut. They'll run up a big deficit and claim it's because of obamacare and his "entitlement programs."

2011 will see higher deficits and higher unemployment and most likely the start of another recession.


Not you, Gordon Adams, although I hope you're right. But I think you're wrong. I'm ditto-ing Wonk @ 6:24. The Republicans don't care about the deficit or the budget. Nor do they care about conservatism (fiscal or otherwise), or defense, or governance. They only care about what will look good in November 2012. And I don't think that this involves cutting defense.

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