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What would you cut?

July 1, 2011

Hypocrisy is expensive.

Today Leon Panetta outlined $178 billion in DOD budget cuts. No details were released, but soon after, via Twitter, WaPo asked its followers what they would cut.

I thought about the conversation I had with D last night, about how he’s been working 16-hour shifts, how he’ll need me to send him more toilet paper and baby wipes and Gatorade powder, about the clause in his contract limiting the amount of aid he’ll get if he is disabled in the line of duty.

I thought about the hypocrisy I’ve heard from politicians who gift-wrap million dollar contracts but ignore homeless and unemployed veterans. That, of course, isn’t a national security issue; it is an issue of our national honor.

America derives its honor from our democracy and all the beautiful language that goes with it. Freedom. Liberty. Justice. Hope. Yet in our international exploits, our strategy often clashes with our ideals.

Not only is this hypocritical, it is dangerous.

America’s support for abusive regimes and intervention on their behalf is al Qaeda’s number one recruitment tool.

This fact is regularly stated by our politicians, the National Security and Intelligence communities, but we knowingly continue on a risky self-destructive path. We give these regimes jets, bombs, ammunition and cash.

Back in 2006, we slapped Israel’s wrist for using cluster bombs they promised they wouldn’t use in populated areas. The question here is: what did we think they were going to use them for?

The Center for Public Integrity has a nice little (albeit outdated) list of the world’s human rights offenders and the amount of military aid they’ve received in the first few years after September 11. There is no amount given for Saudi Arabia.

The Top Ten Offenders
(by Dollar Amount between 2002-2004, not by worst abuses)

Israel: $9 billion
Egypt: $6 billion
Pakistan: $4 billion
Afghanistan: $2 billion
Jordan: $2 billion
Columbia: $2 billion
Turkey: $1 billion
Peru: $445 million
Bolivia: $320 million
Poland: $313 million

Iraq comes in 11th with almost $284 million.

Let’s keep in mind that between 2002 and 2004 it was the “Party of Fiscal Responsibility” that approved these expenditures. This party is currently refusing to raise taxes, despite fifty years of economic history (see Reagan’s 1982 increases and Clinton’s 1993 increases) and proposing cuts to “entitlement programs.”

I need to talk about that for a minute. The word “entitlement” suggests that the beneficiaries did nothing to deserve what they are getting. But over 95% of Medicare recipients paid federal income taxes for 50 years or more. Moreover, many of these recipients – like my Grandfather – lived through the Great Depression, spent his youth in the Navy, paid his taxes and honored the law. We DO owe them. We owe them as much as we owe those who are serving today.

But Democrats, afraid of the majority-Republican House, seem to forget that only a few years ago a Republican president and his minority party did whatever the **** they wanted.

I guess cowardice is costly too.

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