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Charlie Vignola: The poor cannot pay cost of war

Democratic Voices

Posted: May 22, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 22, 2012 2:00 a.m.

I’ve noticed there’s one kind of government spending that Republicans never mind, no matter what the circumstances: military spending. We could have a surplus or deficit, be it peacetime or wartime, but if the subject is increasing the military budget, the only response from the right is a crisp, “Yes, sir, how much?”

Why is this the case? Dime-store psychology would tell you it’s a number of factors.

A key factor is that Republicans have the ingrained belief that the world is a dangerous place so you can never be too well-protected, no matter how over-the-top the response seems.

A foreign country might have weapons of mass destruction? That’s good enough for us. Let’s go to war!

I may be the victim of a home-invasion robbery, even though the odds are only slightly better than being struck by lightning? Then I need the right to possess an AK-47, or a handgun with a 33-bullet clip.

With this mindset, any suggestion of reducing military spending is not only unthinkable, it’s downright suicidal.

What Republicans’ addiction to military spending really does is give you a clear window into their priorities. Nothing to them is more important. Even balancing the budget takes a backseat to buying more guns and tanks and fighter jets.

The price for America’s security when George W. Bush took office was about $295 billion a year. The amount the Republicans are asking for in 2013 is $642 billion.

Now, it makes sense that military costs go up in a time of war. Thanks to Bush, we went to war against Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s, so the spending necessarily went up — even as revenues to pay for the wars went down due to the Bush tax cuts.

But we’ve now pulled out of Iraq, and in a year or so — God willing — we’ll be leaving Afghanistan. So why is the Republicans’ proposed military budget even higher than it was when we were actively fighting two wars?

Why is it even higher than military leaders think is necessary? 

Here’s a riddle for you: When is congressional pork not pork? When you mask it in ideological terms. And that’s what our current congressman, Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is engaged in.

I have received several emails from Buck’s campaign framing the need to keep defense spending higher than ever lest we risk the lives of our brave men and women serving overseas. After all, you don’t want American soldiers to die because the Democrats want to cut the military budget, do you?

Well, that’s what’ll happen if the Democrats get their way and if you don’t re-elect him again this November, Buck strongly suggests in his scare-mongering emails.

What Buck downplays is the reality that military spending has even bigger ramifications for him personally, seeing as how he’s in the pockets of the big military contractors in his district that contribute money to his campaign in exchange for him keeping the taxpayer spigot gushing for their products despite the winding down of two wars.

Again, the accurate term for this quid pro quo is pork.

If Buck believes that America’s security is truly that critical because we’re living in such apocalyptic times where evil lurks around every corner — Hell, we’ve got terrorists with bombs in their undies looking to blow us up! — then surely he believes we need to pay for the increase in spending, right?

Remember, Buck is a staunch backer of the Ryan budget, so any revenue increases that involve raising taxes on anyone, even (especially) millionaires and billionaires, are off the table. After all, why should these courageous “job creators” have to sacrifice a penny so that less fortunate Americans can be safe?

That only leaves one group expected to sacrifice so that we can pay for these additional guns and tanks and fighter jets: Yep, you guessed it — the less fortunate.

According to Buck and his right-wing ilk, those additional tens of billions in increased military spending will have to come from severe cuts in programs that aid the sick, the elderly and the poor. Because threatening foreigners is more sacred than helping Americans. You know, Jesus’ philosophy.

This November, Buck anticipates — nay, expects — that he’ll once again cruise to an easy re-election victory. I humbly suggest that we don’t make it easy for him.

Charlie Vignola is a former college Republican turned liberal Democrat. He lives in Fair Oaks Ranch, works in the motion picture industry and loves his wife and kids.


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