Saturday, January 14, 2017
Trump: Jobs from Bigger Government
It’s pretty clear that militaries around the world are growing in size and sophistication. Notable in this group are China (which finally has a modern, operating aircraft carrier), Russia and, oh yes, Iran. Notwithstanding that the U.S. accounts for 41% of global military spending with a force that has not won a major conflict since World War II, Trump and the GOP have prioritized a much larger military. Over supporting education. Research. And even on infrastructure, while Trump sees the need, the Congressional leadership has told the President-elect that he can expect less and will have to wait, since this rather large expense is not a Republican priority by any means. Unless you count the “Wall” with Mexico as infrastructure.
So the United States has pledged to accelerate our military spending to counter these global trends from our traditional foes. Nobody seems to stop and ask what our military is protecting when we will not educate our children into a competitive world, are unwilling to repair and enhance one of the most inefficient and dilapidated infrastructures in the developed world and are unwilling to spend money in scientific research that once created the innovation that pushed us to the top spot among global economies.
Trump has already signaled a willingness to engage in an arm’s race with nuclear powers, and no one has begun to put a price tag on that expansion. You have to wonder how many nukes it really does require to kill every living thing on this planet… when we have long had that power with our existing arsenal. This is a late December Trump-Tweet: ““The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” No specifics. No numbers. No clear goals. You’d think that cyber-security, where we really are vulnerable, would be the focus. But you know that’s not something Trump really wants to champion.
However, there are more concrete areas where the numbers are easier to analyze. Let’s look at the estimates in one of the most sensitive areas of American military procurement: sea power. “The Navy on average has spent $15.9 billion annually on ship building over the past three decades, according to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). In order to meet the Republican president-elect's goal, the navy shipbuilding account would have to be boosted to $25 billion a year, 60 percent higher than the historical average.
“That will mean having to find a way to lift the budget cap on defense spending by about $9 billion a year... Trump is far from alone in his ambitions for expanding the U.S. fleet to counter Russia, China, Iran and other global adversaries. Last month, the Navy released a new force structure assessment – a blueprint for the future -- which calls for building a fleet of 355 ships. That is in sharp contrast to a previous long-term goal of 308 ships.
“As of last November, the U.S. fleet numbered 272 battle force ships, according to CBO. That included aircraft carriers, submarines, surface combatants, amphibious ships, combat logistics ships and some support ships. The proposed buildup would include an additional aircraft carrier, more large warships and more attack submarines.” AOL.com, January 8th. That’s just the ship building aspect of this proposed expansion. Nobody has run the numbers yet on the tens of thousands, maybe more, of sailors and operational vendors it will take to man those new boats and keep that massive new fleet capacity afloat.
And while direct engagement of workers by the government has been the horrible that Republicans have railed against for years, Mr. Trump clearly sees this effort as job-creation. “As our fleet is rebuilt, we'll need to invest in recruiting the skilled American craftsmen we need, like welders and pipe fitters and so much more… We will establish centers of excellence in places like Philadelphia and Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Hampton Roads in Virginia to produce the master craftsmen we need to rebuild our Fleet,” said Trump recently. Should the catchy slogan that has been associated with Trump ascent be changed to “A Bigger Better Swamp”?
And then there’s other government make-work project, the great Mexican wall. Even though Trump pledged that Mexico would pay for that construction, something the Mexican government has promised never to do, Trump wants the U.S. to foot that bill in the “interim.” “The Trump transition] team told GOP officials the real estate mogul had signaled that the building of the wall be funded by American tax dollars and not by Mexico, as he had previously claimed, CNN reported Thursday citing House Republicans. Officials are looking to fund the construction using the appropriations process as early as April.
“Trump’s team cited a 2006 law signed by former President George W. Bush that grants them the authority to build the wall but the team is unclear of how it will fund the construction. In October, the 70-year-old president-elect said Mexico would reimburse the U.S. for the cost of the wall.
“The 2006 law allowed the construction of a ‘physical barrier’ running for 700 miles on the country’s southern border, Politico reported earlier Thursday [12/5]. The law was never fully implemented and did not include a sunset provision allowing Trump to continue where Bush left off using the funds Congress would allocate for the project.
“‘It was not done in the Obama administration, so by funding the authorization that’s already happened a decade ago, we could start the process of meeting Mr. Trump’s campaign pledge to secure the border,’ Indiana Rep. Luke Messer told CNN on Thursday [12/5].
“The GOP lawmaker said the project would involve ‘big dollars, but it’s a question of priorities,’ citing Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul’s $10 billion border security bill that he proposed last year… ‘Democrats may well find themselves in the position to shut down all of government to stop the buildout of a wall, or of a barrier, or of a fence,’ Messer added.” UKProgressive.co, January 8th.
Trying to figure out exactly how this wall benefits most of us is a tough one, particularly since its greatest probable impact will be an excuse for cartels to raise the price of illicit narcotics sold in the great drug-demanding northland. And trust me, getting drugs into the United States has been and will continue to be a slam dunk for these time-tested experts.
Add the promised tax cuts, and some very, very big questions for exactly how we’re going to pay for stuff we don’t need, cut the educational/research job-building programs that would generate the kind of future income tax dollars we will need to sustain all this and avoid a massive increase to an already unmanageable deficit. And screw the sick and disabled as we dismantle the Affordable Healthcare Act that could cost the country hundreds of billions simply to undo.
I’m Peter Dekom, and it’s hard to believe that the federal government has not yet made marijuana legal when it seems that the President-elect and his GOP cadres must be smoking the stuff to come up with plans like this.