Tea Party crushing Defense Hawks on Military Budget?

That’s the headline from the indispensable Just Foreign Policy. The daily news digest cites two articles of note. First the Atlantic’s Joshua Green quotes Congressman Barney Frank, “The Tea Party people are anti-military spending to a greater extent than establishment Republicans and have a healthy dose of isolationism thanks to American intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The congressman adds, “On this issue, they were a positive force.”

The debt ceiling debate has other positive attributes. Joel Rubin of the anti-nuclear proliferation Ploughshares Fund, writes “It’s worth noting that even though the debt deal has detractors who are concerned that it doesn’t specify the exact defense cuts to be made, this deal is already having an impact on the political debate, as profligate defense spenders are up in arms. There are real spending caps in the deal that, because of perpetual inflation, will reduce the Pentagon’s purchasing power and force cutbacks.”

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22 Responses to Tea Party crushing Defense Hawks on Military Budget?

  1. Deb Spilko says:

    I think one needs to be careful

  2. Deb Spilko says:

    That left before i was done…
    I think one needs to be careful about assuming the “Tea Party” individuals and movement speak with one voice. Some are genuine grassroots, some are just pro-corporate Republican front groups, some are white supremacists, and so on.
    The “Tea Party” candidate in elected from our (PA-3) district, Mike Kelly, has turned out to be a big dumb rubber stamp for Boehner and the GOP establishment.

  3. Darren, Deb, thanks for the insight. This is going to be a difficult sorting process of finding those who get “it” but you never know where or when or what makes something click. A an Oath Keeper in So Cal told me that he was a nationalist until he started listening to Ron Paul on economics. Before he knew it, he was anti-death penalty and antiwar.

  4. Carmela says:

    Yes, progressives need to start listening more closely to Ron Paul. If you watched that Republican debate a while back, you heard him say that if we stopped all these foreign wars and foreign aid, we could pay for the programs that people need (the programs that are threatened with cuts). When Romney was asked about ending the war in Afghanistan, Romney said he’d end it just as soon as the generals told him it was OK. Ron Paul up next says, with emotion, “I’m not going to take orders from the generals. If I’m the commander in chief I’m making the decision to end that war.” (These are not exact quotes but my recollection.)

    I also heard Ron Paul tell one of the TV newsers, in relation to spending on these wars and a a reason to end the wars, “We can’t even afford healthcare for our own people.”
    Clearly, Ron Paul is not anxious to end Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid and maybe (I’m thinking) he has the perspective that I have: If it weren’t for those programs that go to benefit the American people, we’d just have more wars. We’d have a dozen more wars. Those programs are a check on the US government starting wars.

    I am planning to re-register as “unaffiliated” so that I can vote in the Republican primary next year and vote for Ron Paul. Here in New Jersey, unaffiliated can vote in either party’s primary.

  5. Darren says:

    My understanding of Paul’s position is that ending the wars is the priority. We can get on with ending the rest later.

    Here’s another view of the relationship between welfare & warfare. From “Martin Luther King and the Empowerment of the War Machine: A Libertarian’s View (video)” :

    When the left decries the government’s diversion of its resources from human needs to the military it is on to something. War does impoverish us. What the left needs to understand is that a government with the resources to build schools also has the resources to build drones, a government with the resources to build roads also has the resources to build jet fighters, and a government with the power to tax and create money has the resources to pay for the weapons mentioned above and to wage war.

    And wage war it will, for as Randolph Bourne wrote “War Is the Health of the State”. Giving the state resources only feeds the war machine. Welfare at home and warfare abroad are also just flip sides of the same coin. If the left really wants to see Dr. King’s dream of peace come true they must face the reality that they can not give the government the tools it needs to wage war and expect it not to do so. It’s not enough to advocate that they not buy weapons. We must take away the tools they use to acquire them. This means that we must end the Federal Reserve System, the income tax, the federal government’s social spending, its regulatory role, and its police powers. Peace will only come when the government is powerless to commit evil acts both at home and abroad.


  6. Carmela says:

    I agree with a lot of that but a government that can have a police department will have power. I am sure that Social Security and Medicare were not started as a strategy to contain the state but they are evolving into such. Those programs are supported by probably 95% of the public out of self-interest. God’s hand is at work in the genius of everyone getting benefits.

    A threat to Social Security and Medicare is the one thing that will galvanize the public, not the immorality of war, not the banksters stealing, not the mysterious trillions of Federal Reserve loans that we might be on the hook for, etc. etc. Its not that the public is apathetic, not really. They don’t think they can do anything about the wars and the corruption and scheming. On Medicare and Social Security, people will vote en masse.

    As Eisenhower put it, “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas.5 Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

  7. Darren says:

    Yes, I’m just a wild, stupid, & crazy guy making noise on the internet! :-P

    I can’t imagine why you think that welfare is somehow a check on govt. It is a symptom of it being out of control. I would remind you that the modern aggressive regimes were also heavily welfarist, the Nazis & Soviets among them. Not to mention the American regime that got the US into the mother of all wars, WW II. Matter of fact, the modern welfare state started under the militaristic Bismark in 19th century Germany. Welfare & warfare go hand in hand.

    Here’s another POV on welfare:
    “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” –Frederic Bastiat

  8. Deb Spilko says:

    When I heard the Antiwar Radio interview with Kevin last year, one of the things that stuck out in my mind was Scott Horton imagining the peace dividend that could come from stopping the wars and the empire. Wouldn’t it be nice for us (libertarians, progressives and others) to be able to argue about what happened to the money that wasn’t spent that way?
    We can have this progressive vs. libertarian vs. whoever else discussion anywhere. But the challenge of the supporting the broad spectrum antiwar movement is to work together on very specific concerns. We need to learn to agree to disagree about certain things that aren’t part of the antiwar movement. It doesn’t mean giving them up, it just means that it doesn’t help anything to hash them out in a space like this. That may be hard for some to do. I know as a progressive, I always believed the saying No peace without justice, no justice without peace. The “justice” of course, is as progressives define it. When I started checking out Antiwar.com in 2003, it was a real eye-opener that there were all these people who were conservatives and libertarians who were so committed to stopping the war-mongering and it totally challenged my beliefs, but in a good way. It has also been a challenge to deal with liberals and progressives who share my views of “social justice” but seem to think Obama’s continuation of the Bush wars and torture are okay. I no longer believe this stuff is all of a piece. Let’s work together on what we agree on, and deal with the other stuff somewhere else. It’s not for everyone’s taste but if you’re up for it let’s go forward with this important work.

  9. Carmela says:

    When you are getting Social Security and Medicare benefits, who are you plundering from? Your own kids! Without Social Security and Medicare, our aged parents would be living with us and if you’ve ever known a family that had grandma living with them, you know that FICA is a bargain.

    Thats why the support is so near-universal. The program works and the public likes it. If I was looking for people who are plundering, it would be the banksters and the military contractors and the areas of the country that have the big military bases that support their economy. My money here in this “blue” state is being plundered to bolster the economies of a lot of deficit hawk red states. Thats how you know this latest debt deal is baloney. Supposedly they’re going to do 50% of the cuts from defense. Watch the self-styled deficit hawks squeal like the pigs they are. Did you see the item the other day about the contractor charging $900 for a $7 control switch delivered to the US army in Iraq? I bet that contractor has good friends among the deficit hawk congressmen.

    Medicare gets great rates for the services. I looked after my mother for years and wrote her checks to pay what remained after Medicare paid their part. Medicare is a great negotiator for low rates, I gotta tell you. Cut Medicare spending and leave people on their own and they won’t know where to begin to negotiate. Its not like those costs will disappear without Medicare; people will be on their own to negotiate. Items on the bill that Medicare x’s out entirely – disallows – will get paid by people who will think they are “negotiating” when they get 50% off. Oh, the Wall Street bankers would rub their hands and lick their chops at the prospect! They’d get their hands on that money for sure, and they’d sell derivatives on it somehow or other and those would go stinko and the taxpayers would get to bail out health insurance companies like we bailed out AIG.

  10. Darren says:

    Deb – You may be right, but you’re no fun. LOL Nothing wrong with a friendly discussion while we work together for piece.

    Carmela – To take a look at Medicare one has to look at the root of the problem, outrageous health care costs. If healthcare were affordable this whole thing would be a non issue. Health care is expensive because of licensing, regulation, & subsidies. Pharma, medical, & insurance are some of the most regulated industries. The govt pays for 1/2 of all medical care. Given the cost rising & competition destroying regulations, & the fact that subsidies drive up costs, what we see is that Medicare is actually part of the problem. To have good affordable health care what we need to do is stop regulating, licensing, & subsidizing it. (http://mises.org/daily/917)

    On to Social Security. It is costing us 5% GDP growth every year (http://www.cato.org/pubs/ssps/ssp7.html). Imagine how much better off we’d be if we’d have had an extra 5% growth each year for the last 30 years. Our standard of living would be more than twice what it is today. This cost is unseen by most which explains why so many think SS works. It actually makes us poorer & retirement harder.

    Lastly, there’s no moral difference between plunder by military contractors & banksters, & SS recipients. They all do the same thing which is to receive stolen (tax) money. This is why welfare & warfare go hand in hand. Once the govt has the resources for welfare it can easily divert some or most of them into warfare.

    “…the portion of liberty enjoyed in England is just enough to enslave a country more productively than by despotism, and that as the real object of all despotism is revenue, a government so formed obtains more than it could do either by direct despotism, or in a full state of freedom, and is, therefore on the ground of interest, opposed to both. They account also for the readiness which always appears in such governments for engaging in wars by remarking on the different motives which produced them. In despotic governments wars are the effect of pride; but in those governments in which they become the means of taxation, they acquire thereby a more permanent promptitude.”
    –Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

  11. Darren says:

    peace not piece, oops.

  12. Carmela says:

    No offense but you can’t really expect another commenter to read a long treatise from the Cato Institute (or any long treatise). I attended a town meeting with my local Congressman when Bush came out with his privatize Social Security plan in early 2005. Four Points:
    (1) The plan to privatize Social Security would still take the money via FICA taxes.
    (2) The money would go into annuities so you or your heirs would never get some big chunk of money.
    (3) If there was ever any confidence in private investment, the last few years have destroyed confidence for a generation.
    (4) The public supports Social Security and Medicare. Thats democracy. Even nibbling at those programs has to be done on the QT or it moves elections. The Republicans won the 2010 midterms largely on telling people that “Obamacare” cut money from Medicare (which cuts the Republicans cut in their own budget).

    Regarding Medicare, two points:
    (1) You could still get 1970 medical care for about what it cost in 1970 but you don’t want 1970 medical care. The improvements in medical care in the last 40 years are huge. We should feel fortunate; I know that I do. My father died at age 53 of an autoimmune disease in 1973. Vast improvements in treatment in that kind of disease. Americans are willing to pay for Medicare; the public overwhelmingly wants Medicare to be very strong.
    (2) There are a lot of areas of this country that would have little or no medical facilities or doctors if Medicare and Medicaid did not exist to pay the bills.

    Here’s my basic premise again: These programs are supported by very high majorities of the American public and it will be hard to undermine them. That is a very good thing because the purpose of undermining them would not be to give Americans more liberty. It would be to take that money for another purpose, wars and shoveling it to the cronies and benefactors of the political class. I’m for making Medicare and Social Security stronger and stronger. Leave less for the powerful to grab.

  13. Darren says:

    The link to “Privatizing Social Security: The $10 Trillion Opportunity” is there only to provide a source for a controversial point. I never did endorse the Bush plan. My point was to show how destructive SS is: “Conservative assumptions imply that Social Security privatization would raise the well-being of future generations by an amount equal to 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) each year as long as the system lasts.”

    Same with Medicare & the link to “Bad Medicine or Bad Economics”. Here’s the major point:

    “What Krugman expects us to believe is that health care is the only industry in which improvements in knowledge and the development and acquisition of capital drive up costs, not reduce them. If that were true, then health care certainly would be the great exception to the economic rule. But if that were true, then we would need to throw out our economics textbooks, since we would be declaring that the law of scarcity, not to mention the laws of supply and demand, is not universal to human action.

    As one with even a rudimentary understanding of economics knows, capital has the effect of reducing unit costs. It would make no sense to acquire it, otherwise. While many pundits are fond of declaring that capital drives up medical costs, they simply are not being truthful.”

    “These third-party payments, and especially Medicare, have driven up demand for medical care, which has also forced up prices.”

    It really doesn’t matter how popular or not something is, what matters are the morality of it & what the results of it are. Drinking poisoned Kool-aid was “popular” at Jonestown, Guyana once, that didn’t make it a good idea on either of those counts. The same with SS & Medicare. They are immoral as they are implemented by force & impractical as they harm the people that they intend to serve.

    Lastly, I think your idea that the govt spending more on welfare keeps them from spending it on other things isn’t playing out in the real world. As I pointed out welfare & warfare go hand in hand.

  14. Carmela says:

    First, its very nice to have this discussion with you. I disagree strongly but this is the great thing about the internet, having discussions with people who are interested in general topics. (you know, the kind of things you avoid talking about with friends and relatives).

    I do not agree that improvements in knowledge, etc. should cause lower costs in healthcare. Just thinking about diagnostics, one of the areas of greatest improvements over the last 40 years. MRI machines cost a lot of money but they’ll find out things that are amiss in the body. In the old days, the doctors missed a lot of those things and people died without treatment. Its certainly cheaper if the patient dies without treatment.

    The key point in your quote about Social Security privatization is the word “assumptions.” When the stock market tanked in 2008, go back and look at how it dragged down blue chip stocks with the junk. And then theres all the fraud and manipulation and rigging that will take people’s money.

    Why would you want to throw out democracy? The public overwhelmingly supports these programs. Why should the public not have what they overwhelmingly support, a guaranteed income and guaranteed access to medical care in old age? It would be immoral to deprive that overwhelming majority and it would be an affront to the Constitution in the most basic sense. “We the people” – the first words of the Constitution. Consent of the governed is the whole basis of the Constitution, including what are established as “rights.” They are rights because “We the people” say they are.

    • Darren says:

      “Consent of the governed is the whole basis of the Constitution, including what are established as “rights.” They are rights because “We the people” say they are.”
      In reality this means that the govt gets to decide what rights we have & which we don’t. That’s why we have fewer everyday. This is contrary to the Declaration of Independence which called rights inalienable.

      People have no right to steal from others. One can not delegate to others, including the govt, a right one doesn’t possess. Having elections & calling the stealing taxes doesn’t change the fact that it is stealing. That’s why these welfare programs like SS & Medicare are immoral, they are largely financed by theft . Not to mention the harm they do, like slowing GDP growth by 5% percent.

  15. Darren says:

    Since this involved tea partiers…

    Hiroshima Day Protest 2011 King of Prussia, PA (video)

    The Brandywine Peace Community strikes again, this time protesting against Lockheed Martin building parts for nuclear missiles on the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan during World War II. The protest went well with speeches, music, and the use of crime scene tape to block the entrance. The civil disobedience squad was arrested trying to deliver documents to Lockheed Martin.

    After the protest I drove around to the spot where the Tea Partiers do their Saturday sign wave to share the message about Focus on Peace, the politically neutral peace movement. Some were receptive and some were hostile.

  16. Carmela says:

    should the government be allowed to tax in order to build roads? I once drove over a very long bridge – like over 30 miles of bridge – near New Orleans. I am sure that my taxes paid for that bridge and I live in New Jersey. Is it “stealing” to tax in order to build bridges or does that (per the Constitution) “promote the general welfare,” New Orleans being a huge port and access to the port is necessary to get goods to and from the port? I know people who could be self-sufficient – raise their own cattle and grow vegetables and can tomatoes, etc. Thats what we’d all have to do if there were no taxes to build the infrastructure that we run on. I’m glad for not having to do that, personally. I’m not much into making jam.

    I’d go back to Medicare and argue that everyone, everyone of every age and income has benefited tremendously from Medicare and Medicaid. As you said above, these programs created a demand for healthcare services. In other words, created a “market” for healthcare that wasn’t there before because people could afford so little of it. It is no coincidence that great leaps and strides in technology and drugs have occurred over the last 40 years. Rich people have heart attacks and strokes, too. The children of rich people get cancer, too. You can have a hundred billion dollars and not be able to buy a drug like, say, Lipitor if the drug simply doesn’t exist because no company was motivated to do the research and development because there wasn’t enough of a market. You could have a hundred billion dollars and lose your child to leukemia because the research that lead to bone marrow transplants never happened.

  17. Carmela says:

    Re the peace demonstrators
    God bless them. Their hearts are in the right place. Personally, I would not go to a peace demonstration and have never believed that peace demonstrations had any impact on public policy.

  18. Darren says:


    “should the government be allowed to tax in order to build roads?”

    The short answer is no. Taxation is theft even if the money goes to feed the orphans. Ends do not justify means.

    The assumption that private companies wouldn’t build roads & bridges if the govt weren’t doing it is false. There is a long history of privately built roads here & around the world:

    “Urban Infrastructure and Urban Myths

    The presumption that markets cannot provide adequate urban infrastructure is an urban myth quickly dispelled by The Voluntary City. Stephen Davies (chapter 2) begins by reexamining the evidence and showing that the English cities during the industrial revolution were not chaotic shantytowns whose lack of zoning and building codes undermined public health and safety. Rather, private-property rights and contracts—key institutions of civil society—made the urbanization demanded by a fast-growing economy and population rapid yet orderly.

    David Beito (chapter 3) shows how developers created the private self-governing enclaves (or private places) of St. Louis, complete with private streets, sewers, electricity and even private governance structures. Residential developers of this period anticipated many of the techniques used by modern urban planners. But they faced market-incentives and constraints that spurred innovation and avoided the wastefulness and hubris that often characterize their modern counterparts.

    During the early 19th century, private enterprise in both the United States and Britain also produced networks of highways that facilitated travel and trade. Daniel Klein (chapter 4) traces the efforts of turnpike companies of early America to replace the earlier system of governmental highways, which had fallen into decay by the late 18th century.

    Private entrepreneurs have also created large-scale industrial communities with complex physical infrastructure and services. Robert Arne (chapter 5) explains the complex workings of Chicago’s Central Manufacturing District, with its well-functioning docks, local and rail transportation, electricity, and many business services.”

    When it comes to health care you’re twisting what I said. My point was that things like Medicare make it possible for some people to get health care at the ridiculously high prices that licensing, regulation, & subsidies have created. We’ll never know what wonders might have been if there had been a market free to innovate rather than the stifled one we have now. A major problem with medicine today is that they focus on treatment rather than prevention. There’s more money in treatment, under our system people have to get sick for them to make money. Better to prevent than treat, but that’s not how our govt delivered health care works.

  19. Carmela says:

    “What do you do for peace?” Good question. I wish there was something.

    Darren, you seem to be very committed to your philosophy.

    All the best!

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