by William Skink
The backdrop to the electoral competition getting all the attention right now after the primaries on Tuesday should be the class war being mercilessly waged against Americans, and the question for any Democrat dreaming of a blue wave tsunami should be what are you going to do to stop it?
The news that got my attention this morning wasn’t who won their primary, it was reports about Medicare and Social Security. Marketplace Report had that story, in addition to another story from the class war about HUD looking to raise the rent:
Our Social Security program will have to dip into its reserves to meet payouts — the first time since the early ’80s — and the primary trust fund for Medicare is expected to be depleted three years earlier than projected. On today’s show, we’ll look at some of the factors driving this trend, including last year’s tax cuts and changing demographics. Afterwards, we’ll look at news that the former CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix, allegedly withdrew $8 million from the company amid the Facebook data scandal, and then we’ll talk about a plan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that could raise rents for millions who get federal housing assistance.
Now, criticizing the tax cuts will be one of the preferred counter-arguments for Democrats to make because it allows them to score political points as the midterms approach, and it’s valid criticism because those cuts are directly referenced as a factor in the manufacturing of these looming problems with Medicare and Social Security.
But, what I suspect we won’t hear much about from Democrats is how our insane military spending keeps going up and up. You won’t hear about it because Democrats are absolutely complicit, as last September’s vote for the Defense Authorization Act proves:
In a rare act of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, the Senate passed a $700 billion defense policy bill on Monday that sets forth a muscular vision of America as a global power, with a Pentagon budget that far exceeds what President Trump has asked for.
Senators voted 89-9 to approve the measure, known as the National Defense Authorization Act; the House has already adopted a similar version.
Did you catch that? Trump was like, here’s what I want for the military, and the vast majority of Republicans and Democrats were like, no, Trump, we need to throw more money than even you are asking for at the Pentagon. And remember, this is the same Pentagon that can’t account for literally trillions of dollars:
The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up.
As a result, the Army’s financial statements for 2015 were “materially misstated,” the report concluded. The “forced” adjustments rendered the statements useless because “DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions.”
Disclosure of the Army’s manipulation of numbers is the latest example of the severe accounting problems plaguing the Defense Department for decades.
Instead of talking about how fucked up our national priorities are, and how propping up imperialism has hollowed out the social safety net, we continue to get stupid calls for more domestic gun control from candidates like Kathleen Williams, who slipped past Heenan last night in a pyrrhic victory for identity politics. James Conner has the best take on that unfortunate result:
During her campaign for the nomination, Williams refused to join Heenan in stating that healthcare is a right. She refused to endorse Medicare for All, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ single-payer plan. She denounced the National Rifle Association. And she urged women to vote for her as an act of gender solidarity, presenting herself as the reincarnation of Jeannette Rankin, the Republican who served two terms in the U.S. House many decades ago. It was a clever and successful primary election strategy.
In my judgment, Williams was the weakest general election candidate of all the Democratic U.S. House hopefuls. Her fundraising was anemic. Her shameless begging for gender identity votes reinforced the tribalism that is rending the Democratic Party asunder. Her attacks on the NRA, and proposals for stricter controls on firearms, will win the hearts of Democrats, but will chill the spines of firearms owning independent. And her repudiation of the principle that healthcare is a right will gladden the hearts of the fools who oppose single-payer health care.
Can she beat Gianforte on 6 November? If there’s a Democratic landslide that results in Democratic control of the U.S. House, she might win. Otherwise, I think she’ll lose with 40–45 percent of the vote.
John Heenan had the best chance of beating Gianforte, and was the only Democratic candidate to state that healthcare is a right and to say he’d vote for Medicare for All. But instead of nominating Heenan to take on Gianforte, Montana’s Democrats, by a weak plurality, decided it was more important to go down in flames with a candidate flying the flag of gender identity politics.
If gun control meant stopping Democrats from shooting themselves in the foot, I’d be all for it. But that’s not what it means. It also doesn’t mean controlling the sales of advanced weaponry to violent, brutal regimes like the House of Saud and the Apartheid state of Israel.
Over-extending imperial ambition is one of the main factors that led to the fall of the Soviet Union. Combine that with the fact every empire throughout history has collapsed, and the reality for America is it’s only a matter of time. Will Medicare and Social Security survive the downfall of American Empire? If the only force standing between Medicare and Social Security cuts is Democrats, then it’s doubtful.
If you doubt my pessimism, you probably don’t remember that it was Obama who offered to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block of Empire in 2011 as part of a grand neoliberal deal with Republicans. From the Washington Post:
President Obama is pressing congressional leaders to consider a far-reaching debt-reduction plan that would force Democrats to accept major changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for Republican support for fresh tax revenue.
At a meeting with top House and Senate leaders set for Thursday morning, Obama plans to argue that a rare consensus has emerged about the size and scope of the nation’s budget problems and that policymakers should seize the moment to take dramatic action.
As part of his pitch, Obama is proposing significant reductions in Medicare spending and for the first time is offering to tackle the rising cost of Social Security, according to people in both parties with knowledge of the proposal. The move marks a major shift for the White House and could present a direct challenge to Democratic lawmakers who have vowed to protect health and retirement benefits from the assault on government spending.
This country is in serious trouble, yet our political class has become too calcified with corporate cash and hollow virtue signaling to deal with the rot at the core of our national malaise.
For aging Boomers who thought selling out and cashing in would mean a nice retirement one day, I’m sure the Trumpian phase of America’s decline has been an especially difficult shock to the system to absorb.
But the system needed a shock, and now we have a choice: keep going in the same direction, or change course.