From Ezra Klein’s blog in the Washington Post this morning:
The White House prefers further Medicare cuts to further defense cuts, reports Brian Beutler: “Last week, Congressional Democrats were blindsided by newly-confirmed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who basically nixed any further cuts to military spending, and demanded that lawmakers trim from programs like Medicare and raise taxes to reduce future deficits…Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) called on President Obama to repudiate Panetta. Obama did precisely the opposite in his White House speech Monday. ‘Our challenge is the need to tackle our deficits over the long term last week we…reached an agreement that will make historic cuts to defense and domestic spending,’ Obama said. ‘But there’s not much further that we can cut in either of those categories. What we need to do now is combine those spending cuts with two additional steps: tax reform…and modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare.'”
A difficult view to appreciate, given the modest benefit, if any, we’ve seen from the 1 to 2 trillion dollars spent fighting two wars simultaneously on the other side of the world. I understand that it would be imprudent to suddenly slash defense spending. But is an exit strategy in the works? Anyone? Because I notice that if you add even the conservative $1 trillion “war budget” estimate to the cost of the Bush “tax cuts for the very fortunate” — which are set to expire automatically soon — there’s enough money to mount an aggressive fiscal policy response to this depression-like downturn we are experiencing.