Journalism in the Public Interest

How Politicians and the Press Overstated Military Budget Cuts by $100 Billion

Opponents of military budget cuts set to go into effect next year — as well as the media — have repeatedly cited an inaccurate, inflated figure

A CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter circles the USS Peleliu before landing on it. Opponents of military budget cuts set to go into effect next year — as well as the media — have repeatedly cited an inaccurate, inflated figure. (Mike Blake, Pool/AP Photo)

Anxiety is rising in Washington about the big cuts to military spending slated to go into effect in January unless Congress takes action.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. (Benjamin J. Myers/WDCPIX.COM)Republicans, defense industry executives, and some Democrats are arguing hard against the automatic cuts, which were the result of last summer’s deal to raise the debt ceiling and would also cut nondefense spending equally. Multiple members of Congress have warned that slashing defense spending by $600 billion would devastate the military, with Sen. Lindsey Graham this month predicting the cuts would deal “a death blow to our ability to defend ourselves.”

There’s just one problem: The number they cite is wrong.

The law triggering the cuts does not slash the military budget by $600 billion. That figure — which has also been widely cited in the media — overstates the amount of military cuts by more than $100 billion.  

Signed by President Obama last August after the debt ceiling drama, the law actually requires $492 billion in military budget cuts. (The cuts are slated to take place over nine years.)

The oft-repeated higher figure of $600 billion is actually the total in projected deficit reduction that the government would get by cutting $492 billion from the military. The extra $108 billion in projected savings would come via interest payments the government wouldn't have to make. Since the government would be spending less, it could borrow less and thus save on interest.

“It is downright misleading to say that sequestration will cut defense by $600 billion,” said David Berteau, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former Defense Department official. (Sequestration is the term often used in Washington to refer to the cuts.)

“This entire exercise against sequestration is tainted by the intense desire of several parties — from the members of Congress who voted for the bill to the Pentagon that wants to avoid the cuts — to make sequestration seem untenable,” Berteau added.

Both a Congressional Budget Office report and the head of the Office of Management and Budget concur that the proper figure for the cuts is $492 billion, or about $55 billion annually over nine years.

In arguing against the cuts, the $600 billion figure has been cited recently by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., House Aerospace Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney cited the figure last year, and it is also included in a July press release on his website.

Asked about the figure, spokespeople for the politicians offered a range of responses, none offering backing for the higher number.

A spokesperson for Rep. Olson, Melissa Kelly, said that the congressman “just misspoke” and that he was not trying to inflate the figure. “It was an honest mistake,” she said.

The Romney campaign declined to comment. Sen. Graham didn't respond. A spokesperson for Rep. Gingrey said the figure includes other cuts but declined to offer details.

As for Gov. McDonnell, a close ally of Romney, a spokesperson said “the governor is using widely quoted numbers” from the media and legislators.

Indeed, the inflated figure has been cited as fact in the New York Times, Washington Post, National Journal, Politico, Roll Call, and on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News, among others.

Sometimes outlets have also offered conflicting numbers. For example, a June 3 article in the Times reported that if Congress fails to act to prevent the triggered cuts, a “$600 billion, across-the-board spending cut is to hit the Pentagon.” On June 22, another Times article got it right, referring to “the roughly $492 billion in planned Pentagon cuts” that will start next year, barring congressional action.

To understand the law requiring the cuts and how much money it really cuts from the military budget, let's turn to the text of the bill, called the Budget Control Act of 2011. Here is the section that governs the cuts — half from defense and half from non-defense — that will start in 2013 barring action by Congress:



(OMB stands for Office of Management and Budget.)

The law requires deficit reduction of $984 billion – half from defense and half from nondefense.

Here’s the formula in the bill that gets to that number. It starts with a baseline of $1.2 trillion. That's the minimum amount in deficit reduction that last year's so-called congressional supercommittee had to achieve to avoid the triggered cuts. (They did not achieve any deficit reduction.) This is the figure that the incorrect references seem to be based on. But the formula doesn't end there. 

The formula then reduces the $1.2 trillion by 18 percent to account for projected savings because of interest payments the government would avoid. $1.2 trillion minus 18 percent is $984 billion. Half of $984 billion — the military portion of the cuts — is $492 billion.

As it turns out, the inflated $600 billion figure may not be correct even as the amount that the government would save. That's because those projected savings on interest payments from the defense cut could be a bit smaller than originally estimated. 

The Congressional Budget Office released a report in January, several months after the Budget Control Act passed, projecting that the savings from debt service would be just $142 billion. Add that to the $984 billion in required cuts, and the law would save the government $1.13 trillion, not the much-touted $1.2 trillion figure. Since half of the cuts come from the military, the total savings attributed to defense cuts would be about $560 billion. None of this would affect the amount of required military budget cuts. 

Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif. (Lauren Victoria Burke/WDCPIX.COM)There's one other wrinkle here. (Sorry.) House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., a fierce opponent of the impending cuts, has referred to “$500 billion to $600 billion” in cuts. When we asked committee spokesman Claude Chafin where McKeon's figures came from, Chafin offered an argument separate from the debt service issue.

“[T]o achieve that [$492 billon in] savings, cuts will need to be much deeper to accommodate a variety of additional costs,” Chafin said in an email. “These include, but certainly are not limited to the costs of contract renegotiation, contract cancellation penalties, terminating civilian positions and involuntarily separating members of the military.”

In other words, this argument goes, by cutting the military budget the government will incur extra costs that will require still further cuts to achieve the required $492 billion in deficit reduction. Another House Armed Services Committee aide said that there are no specific calculations that led to McKeon's claim of “$500 billion to $600 billion” in cuts because it's not yet clear which programs will be cut. 

Several military budget experts interviewed by ProPublica were skeptical that any “additional costs” -- such as a contract termination fee-- could push the total figure up to $600 billion.

Russell Rumbaugh, director of the Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense program at the Stimson Center and a former defense analyst on the Senate Budget Committee, says that cuts will likely be structured to avoid penalties or other costs. 

“The armed services committee argument is straight spurious,” Rumbaugh said. “It assumes dumb decisions throughout.”

McKeon's own committee also cites the correct $492 billion figure in a fact sheet on its own website.

George Herbert

Aug. 15, 2012, 12:50 p.m.

This whole issue is embarrassing.  If you look at the amount of money the United States spends on its’ military, it is beyond ridiculous.  $680 BILLION?  Really?  It’s more than the next 19 countries, COMBINED.  For a more balanced perspective, go read this:

They should reduce this annual expense to $150 Billion.  THEN people can start screaming.  Until then, please…. stfu.  No one wants to listen to you whine.  Our Government is $13 TRILLION in debt.  We need to balance our checkbook and stop being such a fat, gluttonous nation.  It’s embarrassing.

I’m willing to believe it’s an honest mistake.  After all, these are the same people who didn’t understand what the debt ceiling actually was in the first place, clearly thinking it meant the debt carried, rather than a formality to prevent a corporate takeover.

So the difference between savings and cuts…?

Thank you, George Herbert!!!!!!!!

R Andrew Ohge

Aug. 15, 2012, 1:44 p.m.

Gangsters-Banksters-and Shills-Oh My!

What we have here is a Corp-o-cratic Kleptocracy. I REALLY wish enough of “We The People” could agree on the “None Of The Above” choices for every race, write them in, and reclaim our country while draining the swamp.

I’m not holding my breath, so once again, we’ll be trying to decide who the lesser evil will be.


Thank you for this article, I appreciate the information.  I’m still confused about what the 50B/year represents.  I have read that it is simply not allowing planned increases in the budget.  Is that correct?  How does the (hopefully) expected reductions from retrenching (hopefully) from the Middle East and Afghanistan come into play with this 50B amount?

Michael Fulks

Aug. 15, 2012, 1:51 p.m.

So all we’re asking for in cuts from the military is $55 Billion a year?

It’s impossible to grasp the enormous numbers our “defense” budget sucks up without viewing a pie chart showing the entire budget. And, even discounting the recent numbers fudged by those who support the military industrial complex, the percentage of the pie slice will still remain the same: absolutely enormous!

So “fiscally responsible” MIC supporters instead go after social programs (us “little guys”) to either destroy or find the means to cut - never scrutinizing their own baby to find the waste, fraud, and abuse which bloats THEIR “needs” and fattens the wallets of the well-heeled and highly placed: (the “big” guys).

When you are dealing with numbers so large the complexity of the derived budget makes almost impossible to give a truly accurate number.  The calculations provided in the OMB quote are based on a number of assumptions.  Some may prove correct.  Others may not.  However, it is the yard stick by which savings are measured.  However, the measurement of fully amortized savings/costs will probably not be known for years.

These costs/savings are directly related to a number of policy documents that lay out the National Defense Strategy.  The impact on the military related to tangible things like people having to spend enormous time away from their families doing dangerous jobs without the support needed to do their jobs.  This impacts other fundamental things like our ability to recruit people into the Armed Forces.  It’s a vicious complex web of causality that could lead to a loss of our national ability to influence world events. 

I personally believe people need to better understand the threat(s) to our national security before waving a magic wand and anointing numbers that take on a life of their own.  The threat framework should form the basis of discussion of “savings” or “not savings”.  Otherwise the circus will continue unabated by rational discourse.

Good luck expressing you profound comments when our nations defense has been cut. Your liberties are at risk! If you want to balence the books look at the politicians and the wealthy. These are the leeches that are sucking the very soul of this great country dry.

So while these politicians don’t care when assistance to the poorest gets cut, they insist that taxes must not be raised, and all hell breaks loose when the biggest budget line item gets cut?

There comes a point where you have to say “You are opposing simply as a means of gaining power through pointing to government failure.  The current government would be a resounding success if you actually cared about your constituents”.  The Republicans are using the Karl Rove playbook.

Seriously, what good things has the Defence organisation actually done in the last 50-60 years?  Korea?  Vietnam?  Defeating democracies in Central and South America?  Iran/Contra?  The first and second Gulf Wars?  Invading Afghanistan?  Somalia?

The US defence establishment needs more than a budget cut, it needs an independent review of its entire operations.

R Andrew Ohge

Aug. 15, 2012, 8:42 p.m.

We spend more than the next 16 nations combined…and get less bang for those bucks. Sorry you think not wanting to get ripped off by the big businesses that contract this stuff and ditto for having a problem with Congress and the rest of leeches in on the shellacking we get from these unnecessarily bloated budgets…and for the record the Regimes…er-Administrations and Congresses of the last few decades have done more to erode our rights than ANY of the foreign foes we’ve faced. We took on the world’s greatest empire and most insane monarch to found this country over the issue of Freedom and Choice. Well…a lot of that has been lost over uncertain and even fraudulent “Threats”, while the Gangsters, Banksters, and Shills lined THEIR pockets with OUR hard-earned money.

With all of your chest pounding I hope you would remember all of the money saved in the last peace dividen after Gulf War 1.

1. National Guard units took nearly 10 years to replensih supplies because the Army had to cannibalize their units for repair parts.

2. Clinton could have saved us a trillion dollars if he had taken Bin Laden out when he had the chance.

3.  Rumsfeld said you go to war with the Army you have.  That cold and accurate statement also reflected the peace dividend and hometowns doing charity drives to buy body armor for their departing soldiers; 2)Humvees being up amored becasue we did not have good bomb resistant vehicles; 3)hodge podge uniforms and colors and moly gear that did not match, that according to a recent study cost soldier lives; 4) Development of the Styker vehicle, which is still not a great success.  Yet please note that our bomb resistant vehicles look somewhat similar to South African designs from the 70’s and 80’s.

But worst of all is Somalia, which was another victim of the peace dividend and our inability to project power and have to rely upon the UN.  Do recall Les Apen’s decision that tanks should not be sent to Somalia because they would cost too much.  As a result we did not have vehicles that could runover barriers and soldiers died.  Black Hawk down.  And today Somalia is still a mess that will cost the world economies billions of dollars yet to come, and has cost untold thousands of lives.

Since Korea our military has been sized for 3 year duration strategies, not the decade long gambits that have followed.  That tremendous failure belongs to all presidents and ALL of Congress.  The politicians have been too timid to stand up for doing it right once, instead buying votes by promising to cut the military for domestic programs that are grossly mis-managed and under never ending fraud attacks.

We have asked our soldiers to do jobs beyond the capbility of thier logistics and now, knowing how ineffective ALL of Congress is, we want to scream to cut them even more and leave them un-prepared for the next conflict that should arise.  That is moral hypocracy, and sinful.

Don’t bother lecturing me on the evils of military power.  History proves you wrong.  Instead engage me on failed political will and failed political power and diplomacy to stop madmen such as those in Iran, and across the Middle East.  Quit being lured away from truth by anti-semitic dictators who are no better than the violent and virulent neo-nazis in our society.  See them for waht they are. 

One well placed bullet in the 1990’s would have allowed billions of dollars for social programs.

Taking out Saddam in GW1 would have saved about a million lives, Iraqi lives. 

And so the story goes—we have all been robbed by failed political expediency in order to buy votes for a rose colored society.  We should be tired of being duped,and we should study history much much better and not repeat the mistakes that follow every war. 

Bullies do not negotiate.  They have to be stopped by geater force.  Look at our schools, and all of the bullying rules and laws.  View them as a micro-labe of global issues.  Same behaviors.

And that has what to do with fiscal irresponsibility? The article was about losing track of $100 Billion…unless you find it, because Defense Department HASN’T.

Accounting sleight of hand has absolutely SQUAT to do with anyone’s personal patriotism. And as far as our people on the ground, if that amount of money had been invested in their behalf while in the fight of for them and/or their families after, it could have changed ALL of it for the better.

Reading for comprehension seems to be a lost art in modern public education.

@Mike1950s.  I love how you say “Bullies do not negotiate.  They have to be stopped by geater force”, without even seeing the irony.

!RAndrewOhge: Speaking of reading for comprehension, your statement that the article was about “losing track of $100 Billion” is incorrect. It deals with politicians and the media “mistakenly” or (more likely) deliberately inflating the amount which may be cut by adding more than $100 billion to actual possible defense department cuts ($492 billion) and reporting the incorrect figure of $600 Billion in cuts as fact.

Stephanie Palmer

Aug. 16, 2012, 6:20 a.m.

What these legislators should be talking about is getting this country busy with passive energy. The job of the military is destructive, and that’s it. Given the bad infrastructure in this country due to non-investment, we are in extreme danger all because of us. It’s time these elected officials start doing something about our real dangers. I’ve heard enough of their ghost dangers.

Fundamentally, the question is as follows: when governments mislead or resort to selective disclosure, is this simply another form of lying ?

Stephen, while I don’t want to be contrary (I agree with you in the large), the recent Iraq invasion up to the capture of Saddam Hussein appears to me to have been a resounding success.  We protected many Iraqis from the abuses of Saddam’s government, and as Bush predicted, my military friends all reported that they were genuinely welcomed with open arms.

As I recall, there were also rumors that Iraq was petitioning to ban the dollar as OPEC’s currency of choice, which would have pushed a few extra trillions of “reserve” currency on the market.  That would’ve made the 2008 banking tantrum look like a tiny blip.

Now, everything else in Iraq and elsewhere has been either horribly mismanaged or managed with an intent of standoff.  Today, we’re not welcomed anywhere with open arms, and we have theories about how the terrorists have stopped attacking us in Iraq out of some sort of chivalric code or something because we’re heavily engaged elsewhere.  Couldn’t be that they’re only attacking us when we’re seen as and acting like destructive invaders.

But credit where credit is due.  The first year or two, our guys did good.

As for Rumsfeld’s “the army you have,” it’s worth noting what he said in late 2001 about the Pentagon:

“We maintain 20 to 25 percent more base infrastructure than we need to support our forces, at an annual waste to taxpayers of some $3 billion to $4 billion. Fully half of our resources go to infrastructure and overhead, and in addition to draining resources from warfighting, these costly and outdated systems, procedures and programs stifle innovation as well. A new idea must often survive the gauntlet of some 17 levels of bureaucracy to make it from a line officer’s to my desk. I have too much respect for a line officer to believe that we need 17 layers between us….”

According to the folks I know in the military, this hasn’t changed much if at all.  So there’s plenty of room to trim about seven percent of the budget (what $55/year amounts to) without the enemy of the week marching through Times Square.  Twenty percent of $700B is $140B, nearly three times the target (and about what China spends on its military), and we even have a report somewhere that tells us exactly where to make the cuts.  The trick is to follow the report, rather than slashing critical budgets like a spiteful child to make a point.

Mind you, I don’t like siding with Rumsfeld, but you can’t get at the best ideas by worrying about where they came from.

The formula also states to divide the number by 9 to account for outlays over the next 9 fiscal years. That gives you a figure of about $54.67 Bn. DoD already announced a $41.5 Bn reduction in the FY13 budget as a planned reduction in overseas contingency operations (ie getting out of Iraq).

Assuming the remaining $13.1 Bn comes from the base budget (DoD’s own forecast has this number at $553 Bn for 2013) , that’s about a 2.3% annual decrease for the year.

So the question becomes, can we sufficiently defend our country from terror and suffer a 2.3% defense budget decrease?

Kudos to @Mike 1950s as well as @John!  Your comments are pretty much on target.  Clear, concise, and to the point - I love it!

defence dept
defending what?
Its the “war” dept.

Thanks for a great article, I love propublica. War is always about profit, our politicians are, and have been making a bundle . Chaney is the x CEO of Halliburton, lets not forget that, how many other high level connections can we make from the politicians to the war machine. I say cut the war budget, the Republicans agreed to it, they have no problem cutting grandmas ss, or medicare. Or food for the poor, or schools so our children can compete in the world job market. CUT THE MILITARY. It is a obcene budget, especially with all the problems here at home, our crumbling infrastructure, the deficit, jobs, rising poverty and hunger, these are all just as or more of a threat to our national security as any foreign government.

for those of you who do not understand accounting and finance (incl. author apparently), i understand this may be a difficult and upsetting piece of “news”. the reality is that for any “project” decision or cost-based decision, the entire scope of the costs need to be included to make the most educated decision. When deciding where money should be invested, not only the given specfic “costs” should be included but also the financing costs… sunk costs should be excluded and capital financing costs should be included. capital is not free and can be invested or spent in multiple different “projects”/ways or not at all. decisions, therefore must be made. financing costs ARE relevant here because if that money is not spent elsewhere, the financing costs are saved as well. if the interest costs are $~100bn (which i must say seem extremely high for principal of $~500bn or therefore equivalent to 20% interest rates…), but they are still relevant to the amount “saved”.

get some finance/accounting knowledge people or save your comments based on defense spending, ideological spins or other misc thoughts. i am not part of the republican or democrat or defense or non-defense spending parties. i am just a finance/accounting professional with 10 years experience… all non-partisan and non-journalism related.

@John, What?  An outstanding success?  Where are those “weapons of mass destruction”?  The invasion of Iraq was based on a lie, and if you want to argue that Iraqis are better off now than before the war then you’d be wrong in the majority of examples (with the exception that they don’t have to put up with sanctions any more).

On the new standard of “why we invaded Iraq”, what about North Korea?  Zimbabwe?  Somalia?  China?  A bit of consistency goes a long way in trying to explain actions that are inexplicable.

As for Iraq in 20 years?  It’ll probably be a dictatorship, but that’s fine as long as it’s our dictatorship, right?

We don’t need ANY nuclear weapons (and we don’t need nuclear reactors either).  We don’t need to know every damn thing about Mars or anywhere else in outer space.

We don’t need to give money to rich farmers not to grow crops.

We don’t need wars in every lousy place on the planet.

We DO need roads and bridges.  We need to feed our people, and we need schools and teachers and firefighters.

We need to clean up our water and soil and air before we poison ourselves out of existence..

Get a clue, Congress!

This is all bull,
The machine is already in play, threatend lay offs from the Complex. Graham screaming the sky is falling and many others who are in on the rip off.. Keep in mind 60 cent of every dollar they spend is borrowed money… Meaning we have to pay it back with interest..
So the 50 Bill figure is just a number saying they will borrow less by that anmount.. I would not trust any of them with a lump of sugar???

If I were Pres I would do an ex order ( If possible ) cutting the fed Budget by 20 percent first year then 5 percent each following year for four years.
Yea they would all get lean and mean. It would get rid of the fraud and waste in most government agencies,  special the Pentagon.

The Billions they have spent on VTC complexes, would be used finally and the travel cost would drop like a rock, boon doogle vacations over folks. How many Billions that would be in all agencies I have no idea but Billions…

Audit all federal agencies YES ALL independent agencies out side.
giving them .10 percent of any findings of waste and fraud. Jailing department heads and lower echelons to get the message across. Yea the big boys can be slapped, see Trumann , IKE, it can be done but it takes a President with balls.. Probably a one termer but then again it would get the country back on track. Any Government spending i think is pure 50 percent waste. Which includes theft, graff and it goes on.. Example our representives in both houses, automatic pay raises, how good can it get.

Stephen, please reread what I wrote, rather than reacting to a couple of words out of context.  Our troops did a lot of good on the ground for about two years.  Things were, by all accounts I was hearing, a LOT better, and while I know people focus on the Weapons of Mass Destruction because that’s what got them on-board for the invasion in the media.

But from the military’s standpoint, that was a secondary reason at best.  The main reasons were to get Saddam out of the way, prevent OPEC from shifting away from the dollar, and stop the Kurdish ethnic cleansing, as I recall reading at the time.

As I said, after the capture of Saddam, the game plan changed, and it’s been a disaster since, and we’ve destroyed all the progress we made in the subsequent eight years and then some.  But the early time on the ground was very successful despite that, and we should look to that time to reduce the crap we seem to be bringing with us everywhere else in the world.

Basically, if we’re going to have a standing military, and if we’re going to police the world (two ideas that are debatable, but they seem to be happening regardless of what Americans might want), then I’d rather it work like that.  Generalizing that every conflict has been irredeemable allows for the excuse that “war is hell,” or some other such expedient dismissal of criticism.  Exposing where we’ve done good, on the other hand, provides a model for the future where we’re not wasting millions of lives and trillions of dollars to leave people more pissed off than when we arrived.

John, I read what you said a couple of times before posting, and have now read it again.  Nothing’s changed.  You’re trying to excuse the fact that we invaded a country because of a lie.

But now you’re saying that in fact the real reason WAS oil.  So people were killed because the price of oil might have risen?  The number of times the justification for the invasion of Iraq has changed is just incredible - but from what you’re saying it’s okay to invade another country if what they’re doing threatens you economically.  Does that hold for all the countries that have been bullied by the US into signing trade “agreements” where all the cards are held by the US?  What about when a country is being held to ransom by the IMF - is military force appropriate then?

The US seems to describe itself as being the moral enforcer, but then picks and chooses its fights based on economic interest.  Is that moral?

When were the atrocities in Abu Ghraib committed, by the way?  Before or after your “two years” of good work?  When were people shipped into third countries to be tortured, before being taken half-way around the world and locked up without trial?

Sorry, but those actions were not about “security”.  They didn’t engender warm feelings towards the West.  They didn’t demonstrate how the West did things “right”, and worked to help others.  They were part of an unmitigated disaster that was a war (although that term is hardly appropriate to the one-sided nature of the conflict) that should never have been fought.

John and Stephen,
Thank you for a dialogue that needs to happen. You both make excellent points.  What is needed in our great nation is a moral infusion.  Is there a way to get a representative government back and stop the march toward more and more corruption?  When we stand together and reach some common ground this nation can attain anything.  We’re just lacking a moral center right now.  The Soviet Union collapsed because we “gambled” that they would go bankrupt.  Autocrats will be autocrats.  To be really free we need to cooperate to create the government we want.  .  .of the people, by the people and for the people. Kudos to all who have contributed. I believe war is hell. No one should profit from war.  I thank all veterans for their service and sacrifice.  It’s time to get our own house in order. Heal some wounds here in our great land.

paul, John, Stephen, Mike 1950’s, et al

Stephen’s argument is compelling to me simply because he has stated what most of us have long known to be true. In addition, our actions as a nation have continued to accelerate the process of contradicting the moral principles we have long purported to believe in, while also accelerating the loss of our own rights to privacy and due process as citizens - all currently rationalized under the simplistic banner of “war against terrorism”.

When Mike 1950’s stated that “Bullies do not negotiate”, I understood the intent and also the irony as perceived by us non-bullies. Most of us understand our planet is full of bullies heading up countries exhibiting varying degrees of “bully-like” behavior and “bully” technologies/resources which might prove a threat to us and others (allies?). We also have our own internal bullies: Our own plutocracy which pretty much runs the country - including the press which isn’t really much of a factor since not enough of our undereducated, disengaged people (voters) tune in anyway. Any mentions in the press as to who disseminated the “misinformation” citing $600 billion in defense department cuts have long been forgotten by now.

John really did tell us, via a long route, that the Iraq war was about resources (oil). We already knew that. Our country’s needs are determined by the short-term reactive-thinking industries and military “geniuses” which run it. Instead of our working together via government to invest in the new energy sources we knew we needed, our actions were driven by the immediate “need” as dictated by the MIC: Keep industry intact/unchanged and our uninterrupted oil supply flowing as usual by ousting Saddam and taking over their resources (bonus: being able to play with war toys). Didn’t Rummy, of course, promise us the Iraq war would pay for itself? ............(double oops)

Paul, you’re telling us that we need to stand together. I agree. When do we reach the tipping point where enough of us will pay attention and do that to actually make a difference? I think of the jobs we can create implementing large scale clean energy projects! (Meanwhile, the most recent sabre rattling seems to be directed at Iran….......)

” I think of the jobs we can create implementing large scale clean energy projects! (Meanwhile, the most recent sabre rattling seems to be directed at Iran….......) “
  ( This may happen so Obama can get re elected) .. Carolyn, yes I see the need also. But the big problem is we are not that far yet.
Instead of listening to politicos like Obama and others on Green Energy.
Do some research on Tax subsidies to those same organizations and companies.
The Carbon tax see who benefits, might shock you.

Japan and Europe are paying the highest prices for energy than any other countries in the world. This pays for a lot of their social programs and defense also.
If the Technology is discovered to lower cost I expect it to come from Japan then Europe.

You can not manufacture and expect to export products made with Green Energy again we are not that far. Cost is too high. But the lies continue, ( Research Ca Energy Cost and Businesses that moved because of it)  do some research on it, get your friends to do it. It would destroy the US as it Has Spain Pretty much who went full tilt into it..
Energy is what drives production cost, basically all cost are derived from this basic concept..When energy cost are too high production slows or stops some one must buy the product at the higher price to make it work.. ( Example gasoline cost and food production). Ethanol Green energy Bull, ( 45 cent tax break on every gallon produced, cost of food goes up.. grains cost more) so where is the gain..But the manufacturere takes 45 cent per gallon from Us Treasury our tax Money>>> Google other Green Energy and you will see the same pattern, tax subsidies and then,who owns these companies….????

(I’m the earlier John, using an initial to distinguish myself here from the newer one.  I’d sign up for an account to post comments, if it got me a stable name, if any of the techies are reading…)

Carolyn, it’s a little more subtle than oil, though that was part of Rumsfeld’s sales pitch, as you point out.  The OPEC countries agree to accept payment primarily in dollars.  Because of this, every country in the world maintains a stockpile of dollars to buy oil.  That’s what they mean when the refer to the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, for the most part.

Convincing OPEC to accept the Euro (for example) as payment would be the most devastating attack possible on the United States, at this time, because it would force our economy to absorb the dollars that treasuries around the world would be dropping.

We already had a similar hit from inside the country in the form of the Patriot Act.  Traditionally, criminals around the world use dollars, because of the high value and the minimal tracking in comparison to other countries.  The Patriot Act’s anti-laundering provisions made it very difficult to move dollars around the world, so a lot of criminal organizations dropped them.  Doing it again at the government level would’ve been a big deal.  If you think inflation is bad today, imagine if every overseas dollar had to come home.

And as we’ve seen since 2008, where we go, Europe is sure to follow, because a lot of their money is technically our money.  And in the next five to ten years, we’re probably going to discover that China goes where we go, too, since we’re their only significant customer.  I’m not saying it wasn’t driven by saving some rich white guy’s retirement fund, but preventing global economic collapse, I think, is probably a reasonable short-term goal.  I’d rather people not starve, weird as that may sound.

My point overall, though, is that the invasion of Iraq wasn’t a single-purpose tool.  Protection of the Kurds (which we later botched, by handing them off to the Turks, who also wanted them dead) was also high on the agenda.  It was only nearest the launch (the final reason) that the WMD story started floating, and the fact that it was the only one that stuck is irrelevant except to add to an already-long list of government half-truths and outright lies.  (I happen to think this was also intentional, because it wouldn’t have been that hard to plant a horrible weapon for our guys to unearth, so admitting to the lie can’t have been an accident.  But that’s another discussion entirely.)

And Stephen, you’re definitely not reading what I wrote, if that’s what your response.  I apologize if I’m somehow being unclear, but I feel like you’re intentionally expanding the scope of my very limited statement to show that I’m somehow wrong.  I can clearly see that you’re arguing against arguments I haven’t made, as if I’m supporting war for its own sake.

Admittedly, I’m not a “close the borders” type.  I would actually be fine as “the world’s policeman,” if we could actually be bothered to get it right.  By that, I mean respecting the people of a country, even if we’re destroying its government, rather than blowing up villages just in case there’s a terrorist living there and defining a “militant” as any male who could potentially carry a gun (or, for that matter, using torture to get a confession, as if all those witches the Inquisition found were obviously legitimate).  It also means letting the people actually choose their own destinies, rather than forcing a rigged vote so that the minorities can remain disenfranchised.

That’s important, today, as we can plainly see an increasing number of people around the world willing to fight for self-determination and participatory, inclusive governments.  They do need our help, and it’d be outright immoral to leave them to fend for themselves against governments our companies sold weapons and surveillance to.  We also, frankly, can’t afford to talk about human rights when our official reaction to it abroad is that it’s their culture and they have different standards.  That’s how OUR standards got to be so low.

The only way we can possibly do that is to cull the best of what the military does, so that the baby doesn’t get thrown out with the bathwater.

Paul, I also want to say that I agree fully.  We need to start taking a stand, because just like jobs aren’t created by rich people (unless you need a job as a gardener and are able to work for less than minimum wage, I mean), corruption isn’t stopped from the top.

They say that democracies get the government the people deserve.  Usually, it’s intended to imply that people are too stupid to vote for the right candidate, but there’s more truth in that not making yourself heard to your representatives is the surest way to make sure a corporate lobbyist or a fear-mongering general gets his agenda pushed through first.  When we withdraw from communicating with the government, that leaves the way clear for the bad guys, after all.

For what it’s worth, I sidelined a couple of environmentalists a few weeks ago, who were going door to door to collect signatures (and the obligatory donations) for some state bill on the table that I forget (it did pass, though).  Interrogating them for probably longer than was polite, and probably making sure I looked like a lunatic (no comments from the peanut gallery, please…), they told me that their organization has learned that politeness and classiness counts.

Basically, an angry, fire and brimstone e-mail gets deleted by an intern, barely acknowledged beyond “+1 against Bill XYZ.”  A handwritten letter makes it through to the secretary for her decision.  A handwritten letter showing respect, offering guidance away from the misguided bill on the table, and peacocking at what a big deal you are in your community (club memberships, company titles, etc.) actually gets read.

Regular letters and an occasional follow-up meeting when Congress or the local Assembly is out of session makes it memorable.

I’d dismiss the idea, but look at the strides the environmental lobby has made in the last twenty years.  Assume that they want to do the right thing, and only fail because special interests have convinced them that they represent the majority.  When the majority speaks up, though…

John: Re the carbon tax: Yep, it was a “compromise buy off/trade off” set up to benefit industry (and maybe clean up emissions), definitely not geared towards reinventing ourselves to provide clean energy. Re: Ethanol - it uses materials which consume as much energy to produce as the energy it might provide: corn (Monsanto) being the primary culprit. Definitely not clean energy. Re: “If the Technology is discovered to lower cost I expect it to come from Japan then Europe.” Why is that? Necessity is the mother of invention. Again I’m hearing reactive, entrenched thinking relying on solving problems using the current tools and costs analysis in our current corporate “system”. I have an old Prius - now I want a Volt. I want solar panels on every roof (painted white) and great batteries to store the energy. I want to see American made/designed wind farms everywhere, even off the shores of (gasp!) The Hamptons. I want our country to invest in improving all of these technologies and inventing new ones the same way we did with NASA after Russia sent up Sputnik. We ended up on the moon and beyond, and it didn’t all happen by hesitating at the costs analysis component. The internationally based oil industry does not want any of these things. That would first require the anti-corporate traits of long term thinking, retooling, and investing for the future. Second: None of them owe us (the US) anything. Instead they do their best to protect and hide their assets. Our media is silent.

John C: “And in the next five to ten years, we’re probably going to discover that China goes where we go, too, since we’re their only significant customer.” Since our current plutocracy knows no borders, claims no allegiance to any country (much less ours), is beholden only to stockholders, and does not reinvest in this country, the unabated end game will ensure that the US will no longer be their only significant customer. A consumer economy relies on consumers who have enough money to buy their stuff (jobs). As far as the US dollar world reserve issue goes, I suspect OPEC would not have decided to destroy the economies of their best customers despite Iraq’s intentions. Protection of the Kurds was used as a humanitarian rationale. Not something we would do if it were, say, the Sudan. I’m not alone in my opinion that our role as “world’s policeman” is to serve our own self-interests as determined by the MIC. Instead of ousting the leaders of nations “unfriendly” to our own energy needs, our first priority should be to retool in technologies which will void our need for OPEC sources. A win-win, since the global warming issue is also addressed in a meaningful way.

The only viable means I see to make the changes needed in this country is for the majority of us to join forces, hit the streets and demand it. The civil rights and anti-Vietnam protests worked. We got civil rights legislation, we got out of Vietnam, and the military got rid of the draft. Hence our current, very large, all-volunteer (protest-free) military force - complete with the upper layer of corruption and sub-contractors on the gravy train.

Lindsey Graham this month predicting the cuts would deal “a death blow to our ability to defend ourselves.”

There’s just one problem: The number they cite is wrong.

John C appoligize I did not catch it at first as you did.

Rixar, It is not just the number it is an out right lie and they know it. It is a cry of the sky is faling and we Joe/Jane Doakes beleive it. Same old game same old faces that need to go…
As I have stated 20 percent across the board then let the house cleaninmg begain. In Government it means hireing freezes, pay cap and many other things but nothing to the extent the general population is liivng with. Who is paying all these taxes, the general public, sufffering the most General public


Sep. 10, 2012, 12:55 p.m.

Can someone explain how President Obama claims to be working towards a “balanced budget” - when, according to the Office of the White House, official budget, he is showing us extending the US Deficit to $21 Trillion over the next 10 years??? 

See all the details here:

We are in a lot of trouble.

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