Defense spending large and growing
When former Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke last week to the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, he underestimated the actual cost of the military complex. He stated that it accounted for less then 15 percent of federal expenditures.
Although the federal budget pie chart shows that the Defense Department was allotted only 19 percent of the budget, this does not include the Iraq and Afghanistan war costs that were not funded by regular appropriations but by emergency supplemental appropriation bills, which do not receive the legislative scrutiny of regular appropriations bills.
Possibly an additional $141 billion in veteran expenses and $48 billion for homeland security should be added to the cost of military funding but were included in other pie chart areas. Veteran expense and homeland security are necessary, but the $1.4 trillion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars broke the budget. Some might argue that we have had little positive return on that huge expense.
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From 2000 through 2009, military expense has grown by 9 percent annually.
Must grow economy
Like Ronald Reagan in 1980, Mitt Romney ran for the presidency with a plan to grow the economy faster than his Democratic predecessor. The goal was to unleash the private sector to grow the economy so that all the other numbers make sense. Without growth, nobody’s numbers make sense. Without growth, middle-class incomes will continue to decline, the rich will continue to get richer, the poor will continue to become poorer, and budget deficits will not go away no matter what the government tries to mandate.
But unlike Reagan, Romney did not make the sale. So that leaves the ball in President Obama’s court. He needs to grow the economy at 3 or 4 percent a year, or middle America will have to accept an even lower standard of living than we now have. So far he has not been too successful. Let us all hope that he will be in the future.
Who built it?
Often our preconceptions get in the way of logical thinking. Like the case of the recent Opinion Line contributor who didn’t feel sorry for rich folks losing their Bush tax cuts, which they used to buy yachts and build mansions instead of hiring people. Who manufactured those yachts and built those mansions – other rich people with time on their hands? I’d guess they were low- and middle-income folks who got paid for their work for the rich guys.
HARRY R. CLEMENTS