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Gunning for Social Security – Republicans Want to Cut Entitlement Programs to Pay for More Pentagon Spending

Now that the government shutdown and debt-ceiling crises have been averted for a few months, Republican “defense hawks” like Sen. John McCain and Rep. Buck McKeon will be looking for ways to remove spending caps on the Pentagon that were mandated by the Budget Control Act (BCA). Seniors and the disabled better watch out.

The BCA was passed by Congress in 2011 to prevent another debt-ceiling crisis (sound familiar?). It instituted mandatory caps on discretionary government spending – defense (the Pentagon) and non-defense. Non-defense spending includes everything from education and housing assistance to infrastructure improvements and NASA.  

RamboMost Republicans now insist that Congressional budget agreements stay within the BCA spending caps. So the only way “defense hawks” will be able to boost the Pentagon’s budget is by taking funds from other places, in this case entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – which were not included in the BCA.

While many Democrats have scoffed at the idea, there is reason to worry. Some Democratic lawmakers, including President Obama, have suggested they are willing to make a deal with Republicans in return for new tax revenue or funds for other programs. This is bad news.

Republicans have long sought to increase Pentagon spending at the expense of domestic spending. And cutting entitlement programs is always at the top of their to-do list. The upcoming budget conference, which is being chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, is where they will likely try to cut a deal.

Everyone knows that the Pentagon has a long history of waste and financial mismanagement (like this, and this, and don’t forget this).  For these “defense hawks” to say that the Pentagon needs more money is deceitful at best; but to try and steal that money from the elderly and disabled is downright disgusting.  

Read the story here.

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This Week in Fantasy Budgeting

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Not real

On Thursday the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee ignored the Budget Control Act and passed a bill unmoored from economic reality.  The $516.6 billion SAC-D Pentagon budget is higher than what the Republican controlled House has proposed, higher than what the President has asked for, and $58 billion above what sequestration allows for.  “I am not willing to accept that sequester is the new normal”, SAC Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said during Thursday’s markup session.  With vital social programs on the line, we can ill afford to ignore budget realities and load the Pentagon with more pork spending than they ask for.

To read the article, click here.

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Cutting Food Stamps but Not the Pentagon

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Sorry Meals on Wheels

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the $552 billion National Defense Authorization Act – ignoring sequestration to the tune of $54 billion – even as Americans face cuts to food stamps, Meals on Wheels, and Head Start.  NDAA is the authorizing bill that determines how the Pentagon will spend its money.  This is unique from the Appropriations process that actually funds what’s been authorized.  Included in NDAA was an unrequested $5 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations account to top up the $80 billion already authorized.  This is in the midst of scaling down operations in Afghanistan. Several common sense amendments that would’ve brought this piece of fantasy budgeting back in line with reality failed passage.  These included reducing the number of aircraft carriers from 11 to 10; reducing our troop presence in Europe; prohibiting the Army National Guard from sponsoring professional wrestling or NASCAR; and a $60 billion top line cut that would’ve brought the bill back in line with sequestration.

To read the article, click here.