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Obama threatens veto of efforts
to deep six auto spending cuts

November 22, 2011

President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other members of the administration in a meeting at the White House Nov 9. Official White House photo

President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned Americans in a 1961 televised speech about the growing influence of, and growing huge expenditures on, the massive military industrial complex.

Chart showing escalation in defense spending since 2000. CLICK TO ENLARGE
Chronicle News & Opinion

(NATIONAL) -- It turned out the early prediction of critics was right on the money. The dysfunctional U.S. government’s “Super Committee” on spending cuts has turned out to be just as dysfunctional and impotent as the U.S. Congress as a whole, being unable to come to any agreement on federal spending cuts.

In what may go down as one of the greatest displays of sheer governmental incompetence in modern times, the committee was simply unable to do the job it was commissioned to do.

Dumb as donuts with eyes wide open in the headlights and mouths agape.

Lawmakers had no problems handing out billions in taxpayer money – without consulting taxpayers - to save Wall Street firms who had dug their own graves. They made that decision in record time, just a few hours.

But the committee members - as was the case when it came time to bail out Main Streeters - had no live rounds in the gun this time either.

They were all shooting blanks and as a result of this latest public exercise in bureaucratic bumbling President Obama said Monday he will veto any efforts to get rid of the automatic spending cuts that will be triggered by the supercommittee’s failure to reach a bipartisan solution to deficit reduction.

“There will be no easy off-ramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not turn off the pressure,” Obama said Monday night.

“The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work and agrees on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion.”

The $1.2 trillion in cuts that will be triggered are divided equally between social programs and defense spending.

Republicans, along with some Democrats, having never met a military-industrial complex expenditure they did not like now whine and bitch and moan that defense cuts in the deal are “draconian.”

Now they say they’re working on plan to spare those poor starving defense contractors from taking any meaningful hits.

Let the poor, the middle class, students and the elderly take huge hits in the ugly Great Recession/Depression by shredding public safety nets and starving education when we should be investing in it to try and get our kids, already behind other modern countries, competitive in this world? Sure. No problem.

But let the Golden Calf Mercedes defense industry crowd share the misery along with the rest of us? God forbid!

No sir indeed. We have to keep those guys in their Gucci suits and villas in Tuscany at all costs.

Obama says he’ll have none of that and urges both sides to keep working on an agreement, while blaming Republicans for failing to come together in a deal that was expected to be signed and sealed by midnight Monday.

“There are still too many Republicans in Congress who have refused to listen to the voices of reason and compromise that are coming from outside of Washington,” Obama said. ”At this point, at least, they simply will not budge from that negotiating position. … That refusal continues to be the main stumbling block.”

How bad is this latest display of government gridlock?

Michael Cooper in a new piece in the New York Times leads off with, “Does the American political system even work anymore?”

He should already know the answer: no.

He says Americans are dumbfounded and worried (what’s new?) about what the people who make their living on The Beltway are doing to the country by their complete lack of competence, not to mention lack of will, smarts and pragmatism to do anything to make this country run better.

“The failure of the committee — which had been dubbed, with typical inside-the-Beltway grandiosity, the “supercommittee” — led to predictable, if bitter, kryptonite jokes. But it also prompted wrenching questions about whether Congress can be trusted to do its job: the committee, after all, was supposed to do the hard work that lawmakers had put off in August when they eventually agreed to avert default by raising the nation’s debt limit, waiting so long to do so that Standard & Poor’s lowered the United State’s credit rating,” writes Cooper.

And the pathetically amusing part of the whole deal about this Super Committee is that the committee was formed to save Congress's collective butt in the first place – to do the job it was supposed to do but failed because it does not possess the collective smarts or guts to handle managing a kiddie car race.

Cooper again:

“The idea of the committee was, in part, to save Congress from itself: let a dozen members forge a compromise to cut the deficit, and then put it to the whole Congress for an up-or-down vote. It was Congress lashing itself to the mast, like Odysseus, to resist the siren calls of lobbyists and special interest groups. But in the end, the ship went nowhere.”

How low can this thing sink? Right down to the ground, noses in the dirt.

Cooper points out that a record 84 percent of Americans said they disapproved of the way Congress was handling its job in the most recent New York Times/CBS News poll last month – the most since The Times first began asking the question in 1977.

Then there is Congress’s approval rating – down to 9%, a record low.

Congress now has less support than President Richard M. Nixon did during Watergate or BP did during the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why? Because the U.S. Congress has demonstrated time and again it is clueless, hapless, impotent, embarrassing to every living American and a continuing hostage to huge corporate money, corporate influence and the now massive military-industrial complex – the one Eisenhower warned would own us one day * - that is sucking up 50 cents out of every American tax dollar.

And not everyone in America is stupid about that.

Why do you think those Occupy Wall Streeters are occupying? Because the country’s being run so well? Because they see any future in this ongoing Washington D.C. nightmare?

This death cab ride can only get uglier because there are no longer any adults left in Washington nor are there any functioning brains in that town.

If you want to see the future, just look around. This may be as good as it gets.

* “We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations…this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience…yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. “

Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961



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