The president’s proposed budget has stirred up a lot of controversy. As usual, those with their own interests at stake complain about the unfairness to them. Agricultural subsidies are a $1 trillion program spread out over a decade, and somehow they always get renewed. They served a worthwhile purpose during the Depression, but hasn’t their time come and gone? When Michelle Bachman got $750,000 from this program despite no financial need, it should have been obvious that something was wrong. How about all the bank loan guarantees? Banks keep the profits from their productive loans, but the number of federal programs that make up for failed loans is a good deal for anyone who can get into it. But it’s a closed shop---it’s only available to bankers and those companies TBTF (Too Big to Fail).
I supported the GM and Chrysler bailouts out of fear that the ripple effect on the auto industry would be catastrophic. But I had another concern that I haven’t seen articulated: what about tanks, armored personnel carriers, trucks, and a host of other vehicles that the Defense Department needs? Who would fill in that gap if the major producers went under? Do we go to China? If that day comes we might as well give them the keys to the rest of the country. As it turns out the bailouts worked. The government is getting their money back and removing itself from the oversight of the two companies, but for inexplicable reasons there are those who still believe that Obama is a socialist. If Obama really was a socialist, why would he target failed companies vice going after the profitable Ford?
Tough times demand sacrifice from all. Former Republican Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the Defense Department had become the largest social welfare agency in the federal government. The proliferation of retirement and medical costs has been steadily taking a larger part of the budget over the years. When President Nixon made our military voluntary he also provided increased pay to attract good people. Today’s pay and COLAs make military service an attractive career. But expecting pay comparable to the civilian sector but not be willing to shoulder some of the medical costs in retirement, especially in the financial crisis we are in, is asking too much. And no, I am not referring to the wounded warriors, who deserve the very best care for life from the VA at taxpayer expense. I am referring to TRICARE for Life, that up until last year cost a family $460 annually, a rate set some 15 years ago. I have a comfortable federal retirement and Medicare, and I would be willing have it cut back as part of cuts for all entitlements. Only the injured veterans should be exempt.