The Congress of the United States and the New President Donald Trump are busy considering how to cut our $20 trillion national debt. Like all politicians before them, they will seek to cut what did not cause the debt and ignore what did. Without even a moment’s hesitation, they have taken aim at Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare. It is from those programs they will hack away enough spending to bring down the debt. Unfortunately, doing that only creates problems, it doesn’t’ address them.
The Congress and Mr. Trump should instead turn their attention to answering this question. What can we do to have a strong military, stay out of wars and provide that vast section of Americans who range from poverty to upper middle class with the kind of living conditions they deserve.
I would urge Trump and the congress to take war off the table as an option and force all disagreements into some kind of negotiated settlement. It was military folly that got us into this mess, not social programs. Cutting them to pay the debt caused by war is like telling your child who earns his allowance by cutting the grass that the lawnmower is broken so he’ll have to eat less to pay to fix it. It is absurd.
I beg of you Mr. Trump and the congress. Focus on Peace and prosperity, avoid the temptation to always look at war as an option. I know of no war that ever took place because the people demanded it. Governments start wars, ordinary people die in them. We are still paying the cost of the Vietnam war in Veteran’s benefits and in a hundred other ways. Then, when you add the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan you start to realize how we got to where we are.
The decade plus long American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will end up costing as much as $8 trillion, the equivalent of $75,000 for every American household according to a report by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. The initially predicted cost of the war in Iraq ranged from 0 by President Push to $200 billion by Lawrence Lindsey, Bush’s National Economic Council Director. Lindsey took so much heat for “Overestimating the cost” that he was forced to resign. Bush, of course, stayed in office despite his totally wrong prediction that oil revenue from Iraq would pay for the war. He was wrong to the tune of $4 trillion in immediate dollars.
According to the 2013 report, this accounted for roughly 20 percent of the total amount added to the US national debt between 2001 and 2012. The report also says the US “has already paid $260 billion in interest on that debt and that ultimately interest alone will amount to trillions of dollars – and for what? What did that war accomplish other than to give us ISIS which is costing more dollars?
The Harvard report has indicated that most of the trillions yet to be paid out will be for the care and compensation of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops left permanently damaged by the two conflicts.
Two other items are adding to our financial ills. One is that we have had to spend billions more than planned to replace military equipment lost in the two wars and to give GIs pay raises and better benefits. Secondly, we can’t pay off the debt as fast as we should because revenue has been cut by Bush’ sweeping tax cuts for the rich while at the same time, the middle class is shrinking. The longer it takes to pay off a debt, the higher your interest costs go and the higher the interest costs the longer it takes to pay off the debt. Unfortunately, hot-headed presidents who launch us into unnecessary wars never consider any of this. We are even more at risk now, in my judgment, because we have elected a President who has proven himself to be a bully who will fly off the handle at the slightest provocation. Worse yet, while not all of his aides are this way, he has appointed some who are sycophants and afraid to push him in the right direction.
So in effect, what the Republican Congress and Donald Trump are saying is this. “We’re going to pay down the debt by modifying your healthcare (Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare) and your retirement income (Social Security). And then …we’re going to give another tax cut to the rich.
It does no one any good to sit around arguing if Trump is a legitimate President. He was elected, he will be inaugurated and he will serve. If you want to do something useful, you must make yourself heard.
The President and Congress must know that this time we will not be silent. We will not have taken from us what is ours and we will not be cowed into silence by the bully in the White House. He serves us in the “Peoples House,” we provide him with the protection, the dignity of the office and all the perks that go with it. You are not in the White House to serve only those who voted for you. You serve me, too, along with all my friends who post here. We are the “We” in We the People. Serve us well and you will be an historical icon. Do us harm and we will run you out of office.
In a future blog, we may discuss the other great cost of the wars – human life. We can’t pay that down, there is no interest and there are no payments, but all of them, hundreds of thousands of them are dead, gone forever. We cannot let them be forgotten. We must always remember the people that our wars killed. Bombs don’t discriminate between young and old or male and female. That, too, should be on our national conscience.
And from where I sit, that’s the truth!