MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Remember that Bush inherited a balanced budget from Bill Clinton? Dick Cheney's dummy, George W., then went on to rack up a multi-trillion dollar US debt by declaring wars of empire – based on lying to the US public – and cutting taxes on the rich at the same time. It was a combo deal guaranteed to sink the economy – and with a big dollop of help from Wall Street, it did.
As the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War nears on March 19, the Associated Press reports on a new study by the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.
It provides the stark financial impact of the Bush/Cheney wars on the United States taxpayer,
The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said….
The report, the work of about 30 academics and experts, was published in advance of the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.
It was also an update of a 2011 report the Watson Institute produced ahead of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks that assessed the cost in dollars and lives from the resulting wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
The 2011 study said the combined cost of the [Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan] wars was at least $3.7 trillion, based on actual expenditures from the U.S. Treasury and future commitments, such as the medical and disability claims of U.S. war veterans.
Now, even President Obama has accepted the GOP "frame" of a nation mired in debt, when it was the Republican Party under Bush – many of them still in Congress – who wrapped themselves in the flag and cheered on the shock and awe of multi-trillion dollar debt and death. And any subsequent growth in the debt is in large part due to the unemployment and loss of productivity resulting from the financial crash.
Obama -- always great at campaigning and, except on rare occasions, generally poor at debunking the Republican control over debate on public policy -- either is again adopting the GOP memes or actually agrees with the scaling back of earned benefits for Americans who worked hard for them. As Talking Point Memo headlines a March 14 article: "Obama to GOP: I'm Serious About Cutting the Social Safety Net." In return, Obama reportedly wants an unspecified amount of additional revenue into the treasury.
What's most disturbing about Obama's willingness to apparently concede means testing in Medicare and Chained CPI inflation adjustments for Social Security (both of which will decrease benefits to many seniors) is that he was elected on policies of preserving both programs without cuts. One can only speculate that Obama, who is careful to stay in the campaign funding good graces of Wall Street, actually has drunk the Republican water treated not with fluoride, but with rank deception.
Basically, the deficit of the United States would likely not exist (or be relatively mininmal) if it were not for the unfunded Bush wars and the tax cuts for the rich – almost universally supported by Republicans when they happened. The wars were also supported by far too many Democrats.
When one considers the trillions of dollars that the wars contributed (and still contribute even if winding down or "officially" over) to the US debt, the GOP effort -- now combined with an Obama endorsement of Medicare and Social Security earned benefit cutbacks – leads to a distressing conclusion: the Republicans and now Obama are asking senior citizens to essentially pay for the wars by receiving less money when some are on the edge of economic survival as it is.
Let the rich pay for the spectacularly failed wars in which hundreds of thousands Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis and Americans have died.
To turn senior citizens into dumpster divers because the Republicans and Obama won't just lay the truth out in the media is cruel and born of deceit.
Obama ever wants to be known as a compromiser, even when he is compromising the principles upon which he was elected.
There's another option for paying down Bush's folly, as BuzzFlash suggested last week in a commentary, "Raise Social Security and Medicare (FICA) Taxes on the Rich, Don't Feed the Cat Food of Austerity to the Elderly."
But that would take a bit of bringing change to DC by countering the meme of austerity for seniors, the poor, and the middle class, by expecting the wealthy and financial elite to pay their fair share.
But wasn't change what Obama promised, rather than riding in the front car on the austerity express?
(Photo: Tim & Selena Middleton)