Tag Archives: military

More Guns, Less Medicine: Trump’s Military Spending Binge Would Swamp Savings From Health Care Repeal

THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE (CBO) released its analysis of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on Monday, finding that the Trump-backed House Republican bill that seeks to repeal and replace Obamacare would save the federal government $337 billion over 10 years — at the cost of throwing 24 million people off of health insurance coverage by 2026.

But those theoretical savings would be more than wiped out by an also theoretical increase in military spending that President Trump wants Congress to pass.

Shortly after the release of the CBO report, House Speaker Paul Ryan put out a statement embracing its findings, claiming among other things that it found that the AHCA would “dramatically reduce the deficit.”

Yet Ryan has offered no objections to Trump’s request for an additional $54 billion in annual military spending in this coming year. The increase alone amounts to 80 percent of Russia’s current military spending; it would make the United States responsible for almost 40 percent of global military expenditures.

Assuming that the Trump administration set the new amount as a baseline going forward, over 10 years it would amount to $540 billion in additional spending. This eclipses the $337 billion that would ostensibly be saved were the AHCA to pass in its current form and remain in place.

And the CBO also finds that the vast majority of savings from the law will come after 2020, when the Medicaid expansion is rolled back. In fact, it wold add $56 billion to the deficit in its first three years:

CBO2-1489445969

Congressional Budget Office

The reason the AHCA doesn’t save more is because it also includes a $600 billion tax cut, most of it aimed at benefiting wealthier taxpayers, by paring back taxes used to support the Affordable Care Act.

AHCA’s impact on the federal budget deficit is hardly the whole picture, of course. The CBO estimates that 14 million people would lose health insurance coverage in its first year. The cost of health insurance premiums would go up for many. The CBO notes, for example, that someone 64 years old earning $26,500 a year would see their net premiums increase from $1,700 annually to $14,600:

CBO-1489441955

Congressional Budget Office

President Trump can offer any number of justifications for hiking military spending while embracing a health care bill that would throw tens of millions off of health insurance. But he just can’t claim to care about the deficit.

By Zaid Jilani/TheIntercept

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Even the ‘most transparent administration in history’ failed to pardon Snowden

In February 2013, President Barack Obama hailed his administration as “the most transparent administration in history.” It was an echo of a 2008 promise, made first on the campaign trail and then enshrined in Presidential memoranda, to share with the world the otherwise opaque dealings of an executive office, to restore trust in public servants. It was a bold promise, and one ultimately hamstrung by the very nature of the office. The Presidency, in charge of a permanent national security apparatus that manages multiple wars and perpetual intelligence operations, is a host of secrets. No well-intentioned transparency from the top-down would ever provide a clear picture of that world.
Transparency would come to the intelligence community from inside. In June 2013, revelations about an NSA mass surveillance program named PRISM appeared first in the Guardian and then in the Washington Post. These stories, which would prove to be the first of dozens, were sourced from secret documents, obtained by a system administrator, working as a contractor for the NSA, named Edward Snowden.
For months, Snowden worked inside the security apparatus, compiling an archive of secrets. This trove is, as it can only be, an incomplete look at the inner workings of America’s intelligence community. After communicating his findings to several journalists, Snowden took leave from his job at the NSA, and then fled from his Hawaii home. First to Hong Kong, and then to Moscow, where he has remained in a state of asylum. While Snowden was in Hong Kong, the United States government charged him under the espionage act, for taking and transmitting secrets to an unauthorized person.
Revelations from the Snowden Files continue regularly, with some coming as recently as December 2016. Almost as long-running as Snowden’s revelations is the debate about what the government should do with Snowden himself. For those who see Snowden’s revelations as spurring needed reforms within the intelligence community, a pardon is the logical next step. The costs of the revelation, from burned assets to compromised missions, are high enough that others see a pardon for Snowden as not only impossible, but dangerous. Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers and in so doing revealed to the American public the full scale of the Vietnam war, hailed Snowden and Chelsea Manning as kindred leakers, courageous in their actions.
Chelsea Manning, it’s worth noting, also leaked a trove of government secrets for publication. Unlike Snowden, Manning was arrested and is currently serving time in Fort Leavenworth prison, where she stated her intent to transition and was regularly subjected to long durations of solitary confinement. On Tuesday, Obama commuted Manning’s sentence. Manning’s 35-year sentence was reduced to time served, plus a few months, with Manning’s ultimate release scheduled for May 17, 2017.
From The New York Times:
At the same time that Mr. Obama commuted the sentence of Ms. Manning, a low-ranking enlisted soldier at the time of her leaks, he also pardoned James E. Cartwright, the retired Marine general and former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who pleaded guilty to lying about his conversations with reporters to F.B.I. agents investigating a leak of classified information about cyberattacks on Iran’s nuclear program.

The two acts of clemency were a remarkable final step for a president whose administration carried out an unprecedented criminal crackdown on leaks of government secrets. Depending on how they are counted, the Obama administration has prosecuted either nine or 10 such cases, more than were charged under all previous presidencies combined.
Despite the many pardons and commutations late in his presidency, it appears that President Obama has made no effort to pardon Edward Snowden, and time has run out for him to do so. Obama entered his office in the middle of two wars, with a national security apparatus fighting a global war on terror on multiple continents. Despite pledges toward transparency and progress on some fronts, the weight of the Obama administration tilts toward secrecy. What the government does in the shadows we may never be privileged to know, until the government itself chooses to declassify it decades later. If Snowden hoped to encourage others to reveal secrets they felt should be public, then Obama’s refusal to pardon Snowden before handing his fate over to a Trump administration could create a chilling effect, discouraging whistleblowers through official or unofficial channels.
It is too early to say how history will judge Edward Snowden. It is, perhaps, fair to say that without Snowden, our version of history would be incomplete.

By Kelsey D. Atherton/PopularScience

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Saddam Hussein’s CIA Interrogator: He Should Have Been Left In Power

Image: Time Magazine

In 2003, I was part of the effort to find Saddam Hussein. I then became the first to debrief him after his capture that December. Prior to his incarceration, I heard over and over from counterparts in the military and the Bush administration that if we caught Saddam we would be able to nip the growing Iraqi insurgency in the bud.

When I interrogated Saddam, he told me: “You are going to fail. You are going to find that it is not so easy to govern Iraq.” When I told him I was curious why he felt that way, he replied: “You are going to fail in Iraq because you do not know the language, the history, and you do not understand the Arab mind.”

More from Time Magazine

Posted by Libergirl

Trump vows to end overseas ‘intervention & chaos,’ rebuild ‘depleted’ US military

Donald Trump has laid out a military policy which he says is aimed at ending “intervention and chaos” overseas. He promised to build up the “depleted” military, but said it would be done with prevention in mind, rather than aggression.
Speaking at the latest stop on his “thank you” tour of swing states, President-elect Donald Trump told a crowd in Fayetteville, North Carolina that he wants to “strengthen old friendships and seek out new friendships,” stressing that the US will “stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with.”

“We don’t want to have a depleted military because we’re all over the place fighting in areas that we shouldn’t be fighting in. It’s not going to be depleted any longer,” he said during the Tuesday event.

He spoke of the need to spend money “on ourselves” rather than continuing to run up an extremely costly tab in the Middle East.

“We’ve spent, at last count, $6 trillion in the Middle East, and our roads have potholes all over, our highways are falling apart, our bridges are falling, our tunnels are no good, our airports are horrible like third world countries,” Trump said. “We’re going to start spending on ourselves, but we’ve got to be so strong militarily like we’ve never ever been before.”

Although Trump vowed to build up the “depleted” military, he said it would be done “not as an act of aggression, but as an act of prevention.”

“In short, we seek peace through strength,” he said.

He went on to stress that the focus of the US military should be on defeating terrorism and destroying Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), promising that the goal would be achieved under his administration.

Also on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama took a much different stance during his final national security speech, defending his legacy of fighting IS – despite continuous criticism by Trump.

“Today the results are clear,” Obama said, crediting the US-led coalition of countries battling IS, and claiming that it has lost more than half its territory and faces a dwindling recruitment effort.

Trump has been critical of Obama’s approach towards IS, claiming he is waging a “politically correct” war against the terrorist group, and criticizing his refusal to use the words “radical Islamic terrorism” after the Orlando massacre.

The president-elect also accused Obama of being the “founder of ISIS” at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida rally in August.

“In fact, in many respects, you know, they honor President Obama. ISIS is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS, OK?” he said at the time.

Trump’s Tuesday comments were made during the latest stop of his “thank you” tour of swing states which were vital to his win. He will continue the tour in Iowa and Michigan later this week.

From/RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

House Pushes Ahead With $611 Billion Defense Policy Bill

Image: CBS Dallas

The Republican-led House is pushing ahead with a $611 billion defense policy bill that prohibits closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and forbids the Pentagon from trimming the number of military bases.

The annual policy bill also awards U.S. troops their largest pay raise in six years.

More from CBS Dallas/Fort Worth

Posted by Libergirl

Why Is It So Hard to Reduce the Pentagon Budget?

Until Americans let go of the urge to go and do whatever they want with the military, overspending is here to stay.

It’s not that that budget has never been reduced. At pivotal moments, like the end of World War II as well as war’s end in Korea and Vietnam, there were indeed temporary downturns, as there was after the Cold War ended. More recently, the Budget Control Act of 2011 threw a monkey wrench into the Pentagon’s plans for funding that would go ever onward and upward by putting a cap on the money Congress could pony up for it. The remarkable thing, though, is not that such moments have occurred, but how modest and short-lived they’ve proved to be.

More from Alternet

Posted by  The NON-Conformist

Defense Department Paid Sports Teams $53M of Taxpayer Dollars to Play Anthem, Stage Over-the-Top Military Tributes

At a time when professional athletes such as Colin Kaepernick are labeled as unpatriotic for refusing to stand during the national anthem at sporting events, it turns out that the very displays of patriotism and tributes to the armed forces on display at those games were paid for by the U.S. government. So when those teams tell the players to stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner,” it is because the fake patriotism is bought and sold like a commodity.

Stephen A. Smith brought attention to the practice on ESPN’s “First Take” recently, as players have come under fire for refusing to salute the flag. Smith noted that players were not required to stand until 2009, and before that time players did not stand for the anthem because they remained in the locker room until game time.

In November 2015, Republican U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona released a report stating that “In all, the military services reported $53 million in spending on marketing and advertising contracts with sports teams between 2012 and 2015. More than $10 million of that total was paid to teams in the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Soccer (MLS).”

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