We all know by now that national power and ability to act effectively at home and abroad is related to the amount of resources, talent, educational achievement, health, and social cohesion, as well as scientific and technological prowess, of a society. What has made America great is that we invested in our people through education. And we finally tried to care for their health and well being. Mostly, America also made sure that our science and technology were the best in the world.
Now, sadly, all of these are currently apparently under threat by the Republican House of Representatives and actions by some of the most radical right legislatures in our states. Continue reading
The Cuts the Pentagon Missed: 02/19/11
Defense Secretary Robert Gates understands that the country cannot keep issuing blank checks to the Pentagon and that the Pentagon needs to spend more rationally and efficiently. He is committed to equipping American forces for the wars they are actually fighting. He has terminated some costly and unneeded weapons programs, held errant contractors accountable, and pressed the services to find savings to help pay for new spending. Mr. Gates is right that there is no way to restrain Pentagon spending without addressing health care costs, which now account for almost 10 percent of the budget. He has proposed that working-age military retirees pay higher health insurance premiums — $520 a year, up from $460 now — the first increase in 16 years. Continue reading
The issues that are before the House and the Senate are a set of amendments and a key floor vote on the FY-2011 funding bill, which is taking the form of a Continuing Resolution. In a surprise vote, the House voted down a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project. The combination of liberal Democrats and conservative Republican freshmen, some “tea party” types, killed the expensive project for the moment.
The irony is that both Secretary Gates and President Obama opposed the second engine as costly and unneeded. Other surprises were a vote to eliminate funding for Iraq security forces. The latter vote could put in jeopardy the administration’s effort to shift security responsibility from American forces to Iraqis. There were strange sights on the House floor and one can only wonder what the rest of the year will look like. Continue reading