July 7, 2011

Solving the federal budget crisis.

About half of U.S. federal spending is for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Thus it would seem that savings (i.e., cuts) in those programs would contribute a great deal to balancing the budget.

Social Security and Medicare, however, are self-financed. They have nothing to do with the general budget.

On the other hand, military spending represents about half of the spending that's left after taking out Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. About a tenth of that is for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In other words, simply ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan would reduce the non–self-financed federal budget by about 5%. That alone is about one-quarter of the way to completely balancing the budget.

And the military budget itself is in dire need of trimming. It is about 10 times that of the next biggest military spender, China. U.S. military spending represents about 40% of the world's total, and with its closest allies accounts for up to three-quarters.

Such a pervasive military presence around the world obviously leads to resentment and resistance — and the need for more military spending. This is a vicious circle that benefits only arms manufacturers and other military contractors (who then don't even pay their fair share of taxes to help pay for it all). It is not a sustainable means of running a civilized society.

So end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and cut military spending by another 30% and the budget is balanced. And the U.S. would still be the world's biggest military spender by far. That is, we would still be safe from Canadian, Mexican, or Cuban invasion.