Levees Not War
Rebuilding New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast.

Posts Tagged ‘budget deficit’

Jobs, Jobs . . . Senate Republicans Keep Vets Unemployed

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

“Where is our honor? Where is our valor? Where is our sacrifice?” —Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), leading opposition to Veterans Jobs Corps Act

“I care deeply about the veterans. I care deeply about housing and helping the veterans who have fought for their country.” —Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), assisting the opposition

“This Congress let partisan bickering stand in the way of putting thousands of America’s heroes back to work. Lowering veteran unemployment is something both parties should be able to agree on—even in an election year.”Paul Rieckhoff, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

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The next time you hear Republican politicians praising “our brave men and women in uniform,” remember that all but 5 G.O.P. senators voted No on the Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012. The bill failed, 58–40, on a procedural vote, just two votes short. This bipartisan bill would have provided $1 billion over five years to help up to 20,000 veterans find work in their communities. All Democrats voted for the bill. The Republicans who voted Aye are Lisa Murkowski (AK), Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine; Scott Brown (MA); and Dean Heller (NV). Two Republicans did not vote. (In the Obama years, 51 votes is no longer a majority. Because the G.O.P. filibusters all legislation, 60 votes are needed.) Now the Congress is on recess till after election day—the earliest pre-election vacay since 1960—and Republicans will be busy blaming Obama and the Democrats for the underperforming economy.

Now, in the federal budget, $1 billion is not a large amount, and, in our humble opinion, even as a down payment this would be a pathetically small investment when the unemployment rate of veterans is officially 10.9% (certainly higher in fact). Further, this money would have been “paid for”: it would not have added to the federal debt because Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) ensured that funding would have come in part from Medicare providers and suppliers who are delinquent on their tax bills. Remember also that during the George W. Bush years, the enormous costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were never part of the official budget of the United States, but were routinely allocated through “emergency supplementals”. According to the National Priorities Project, costs of these two wars so far total $1.38 trillion (with Iraq at $807.4 and Afghanistan at $570.9 billion). But $1 billion for job training that would help 20,000 veterans, said Republican senator Tom Coburn, was a mere “political exercise” and a waste of time, as the House of Representatives would not pass it anyway.

According to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:

In addition to creating jobs for veterans as police officers, firefighters, first responders, and restorative conservationists, the Veterans Job Corps Act would have also extended the critical Transition Assistance Program (TAP). TAP provides employment, education and entrepreneurship advice for troops separating from the service, and to veterans and their spouses after they’ve left the military. The VJC would also require states to consider military training and experience in granting credentials and licensure for EMTs, nursing assistants and commercial driver’s licenses.

A New York Times editorial in favor of the bill pointed out:

The bill gives priority to those who served on or after 9/11, with good reason: the jobless rate for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan hit 10.9 percent in August, compared with 8.1 percent nationally. This is a time of persistent homelessness and unemployment among veterans, and record suicides among veterans and active-duty service members, many of them stressed by the burdens of two long wars. It makes sense for the 99 percent of Americans to find new ways to pay their debt to the 1 percent who serve in uniform. [LNW’s emphasis]

To most people, Senator Murray’s bill would seem like one decent way to do that. But not if you’re one of those Republicans in Washington who thinks it’s more important in an election year to deny Democrats a success or accomplishment of any kind.

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For the last word here, let’s listen to the occasionally candid and revealing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), as he gives away the game just before the 2010 mid-term elections:

The single most important thing we [congressional Republicans] want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

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See also:

They Need to Do Their Job: Obama Bitch-Slaps G.O.P. Deficit Hardliners, Hell-Bent Extremists” (LNW 7/1/11)

2001 Bush Tax Cuts: Where the Deficit Began” (LNW 7/20/11)

Arguing about How to Defuse a Huge Ticking Bomb: Burn-it-Down Nihilism Spreads Among Tea-Infused House Republicans” (LNW 7/20/11)

Grinch Wins Plastic Turkey Award: Pentagon Demands Reimbursement of Signing Bonuses from Disabled Vets” (LNW 11/19/07)

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The Social Contract, Explained by Elizabeth Warren,
Paul Krugman, and Robert Kuttner

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

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“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. . . . You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.”

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United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Elizabeth Warren, the consumer protection reformer and Harvard law professor who is now campaigning to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, has given one of the most direct and cogent explanations of the social contract we’ve ever heard. (It’s an idea that is not talked about often enough.) One way of describing the social contract, also known as the social compact, is of putting the Golden Rule into practice in society through the mechanisms of government for the benefit of all: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Share and share alike. It’s something children can understand, but not many bankers or senators.

Briefly, the idea of a social contract is of a mutually beneficial system that serves both the ordinary folk and the wealthy, and makes demands on all, a two-way street of reciprocal obligation and fulfillment. The closest the U.S. has ever come to enacting a social contract is through FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society. It is an ideal, never quite reached completely, but its essentials were in place not so long ago and could be restored by determined, sustained effort. Robert Kuttner has written about how during the boom decades after World War II a “managed, rather than laissez-faire, brand of capitalism . . . delivered broadly shared prosperity, as well as greater security for both the system and individuals” (The Squandering of America [2007], p. 6). More from Kuttner below.

Let’s go straight to Dr. Warren herself.

I hear all this, you know, “Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.”—No!

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.

You built a factory out there—good for you! But I want to be clear.

You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.

You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.

You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.

You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea—God bless. Keep a big hunk of it.

But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

Isn’t this more or less the idea behind “United we stand, divided we fall”?

As Steve Benen at Washington Monthly notes of Warren’s remarks, “First-time candidates don’t usually articulate a progressive economic message quite this well.”

We have written lately about how the Democrats seriously need to sharpen and toughen up their communication skills. We hereby nominate Elizabeth Warren as one of the chief instructors and exemplars at the Democrats’ School for the Mute. The school also needs a disciplinarian. The Democratic party cannot depend on the skills of Barack Obama alone—though he has lately been showing signs of improvement. Every senator, every representative who wears a D after his or her name should be in intensive training. Dr. Warren—whose talk about economic fairness prompted Jon Stewart to say, “I want to make out with you!”—is the Teacher of the Week. (Click here for her Huffington Post blog posts.)

 

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We were alerted to the good professor’s comments by Paul Krugman’s well-titled column “The Social Contract” (see below, after the jump, for a full version, highlighted and underlined as a convenience for our readers). After explaining why President Obama is right to assert that the wealthy should bear part of the burden of reducing the budget deficit, Krugman cites the “eloquent remarks” made this week by Elizabeth Warren, now on the campaign trail in Massachusetts, countering the assertion that the rich should get to keep all their wealth. It’s hardly “class warfare.” Summarizing Warren’s argument, Krugman writes:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody,” she declared, pointing out that the rich can only get rich thanks to the “social contract” that provides a decent, functioning society in which they can prosper.

This column follows several days after President Obama, in remarks in the Rose Garden (Sept. 19) on Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction, asserted with welcome clarity, “Either we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes, or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare. We can’t afford to do both. . . . This is not class warfare. It’s math.”

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“Arguing about How to Defuse a Huge Ticking Bomb”

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Burn-it-Down Nihilism Spreads Among Tea-Infused House Republicans

[ cross-posted at Daily Kos ]

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“From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.” —Diderot

House Republicans laughed a former George H. W. Bush economist out of the room on Monday when he tried to warn them of the dire consequences of a U.S. debt default, according to John Stanton of Roll Call. Stanton says the number of let-it-crash denialists among House Republicans is actually increasing. They think the Aug. 2 deadline is artificial. The Honorable Louie Gohmert of Texas said in a radio interview that the Aug. 2 deadline is only for the convenience of the president so he can have a big Aug. 4 birthday celebration fund-raiser. Freshman Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) says there’s nothing to worry about: “In fact, our credit rating should be improved by not raising the debt ceiling.” The crazy just keeps on comin’. And the clock—or is it a time bomb?—is ticking. The rating agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s may not wait till Aug. 2 to downgrade the United States of America’s credit rating. Then what?

Congress raised the debt ceiling 7 times under George W. Bush, 18 times under Ronald Reagan. But that was then. There is serious concern in the Republican leadership (in the Senate, for example) that House leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor cannot control the fire-eating Tea Party members, who distrust them and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell as RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). The radicals have principles; they don’t give a damn about reelection. Many of them scorn the Senate’s “Gang of Six” plan as a betrayal because it involves revenues and does not cut spending deeply enough.

Self-styled Tea Parties of populist anger at overtaxation and nonrepresentation began to sprout at first spontaneously in 2009. As the G.O.P. and right-wing self-interest groups including Fox News began to feed the nascent movement with the steroids of corporate money and tactics training to direct their anger against the Obama administration’s health care reform initiative—and then against everything else Democrats were up to—political observers on the right and left voiced misgivings that in dispensing the steroids the Koch brothers, FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and other Dr. Frankensteins were creating a monster that they would not be able to control. (Remember the GOP House members standing on the Capitol building porches waving “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and egging on the Tea Party protesters down below shouting “kill the bill!” as the House was debating the health care bill  in March 2010?)

Republicans “won’t be satisfied until the family is out on the street.”

“I certainly think you will see some short-term volatility. In the end, the sun is going to come up tomorrow.” —Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia, president, House Republicans’ freshman class

The New Yorker’s George Packer begins a Talk of the Town piece (July 25 issue) about the debt-ceiling fight titled “Empty Wallets” with a heart-grieving anecdote of a jobless Florida man whose daughter has bone cancer. Danny Hartzell is packing up the family to move in with a friend in Georgia with whom he has reconnected on Facebook, hoping for a fresh start. After being terminated from his $8.50 an hour job at Target—business is slow—his last biweekly paycheck after taxes is $140. Hartzell is hit by one ax-blow of bad luck after another, mostly in the form of Republican-legislated cuts of unemployment benefits or access to health care (votes cast by men and women who have health insurance).

Turning to the debt-ceiling impasse between Congress and President Obama, Packer compares the struggle as “like members of an ordnance-disposal unit arguing about how to defuse a huge ticking bomb.”

Obama, securely in character, called on all sides to rise above petty politics, acknowledged the practical realities of divided government, and proposed a grand compromise that would lower the deficit by four trillion dollars. According to the Times’ Nate Silver, Obama’s offer, in its roughly four-to-one balance between spending cuts and revenue increases, falls to the right of the average American voter’s preference; in fact, it may outflank the views of the average Republican. . . . 

The Republicans are also securely in character. They’ve rejected everything that the President has proposed, because Obama’s deal includes tax increases and the closing of loopholes for hedge-fund managers and corporate jets and companies that move offshore. Ninety-seven per cent of House Republicans have taken something called the “No Tax Pledge.” . . . Representative Paul Ryan’s ten-year budget plan, which remains his party’s blueprint for the future, would impose a fifty-percent cut on programs like food stamps and Supplemental Security Income, which, as long as Danny Hartzell remains jobless, represent the Hartzells’ only income. By the last day of June, the Hartzells had twenty-nine dollars to their name. The Republicans in Congress won’t be satisfied until the family is out on the street. 

Packer notes that the sociologist Max Weber in an essay on politics as a vocation distinguished between “the ethic of responsibility” and “the ethic of ultimate ends”—between those who act on the basis of practical considerations and those motivated by a higher conviction, acting on principle “regardless of consequences.” They are opposites, but someone suited to a career in politics forges some kind of union of the ethics of responsibility and ultimate ends.

On its own, the ethic of responsibility can become a devotion to technically correct procedure, while the ethic of ultimate ends can become fanaticism. Weber’s terms perfectly capture the toxic dynamic between the President, who takes responsibility as an end in itself, and the Republicans in Congress, who are destructively consumed with their own dogma. Neither side can be said to possess what Weber calls a “leader’s personality.” Responsibility without conviction is weak, but it is sane. Conviction without responsibility, in the current incarnation of the Republican Party, is raving mad. . . . It was Lenin who first said, “The worse, the better,” a mantra adopted by elements of the New Left in the nineteen-sixties. This nihilistic idea animates a large number of Republican officeholders.

Packer concludes with the pessimistic observation that Barack Obama—whom we dimly remember as a man elected president on slogans of “hope” and “change” (our characterization, not Packer’s)—“is now the leading champion of fiscal austerity, and his proposals contain very little in the way of job creation. . . . he no longer uses his office’s most powerful tool, rhetorical suasion, to keep the country focussed on the continued need for government activism.”

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Top photo from the film The Hurt Locker (2008). Bottom: detail of photo by Dorothea Lange for the federal Resettlement Administration, taken in Blythe, California, August 17, 1936. Found at Shorpy.com.

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2001 Bush Tax Cuts: Where the Deficit Began

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Those intrepid researchers at Think Progress have dug up a headline from Aug. 1, 2001—almost exactly 10 years ago—that shows the long-bleeding fiscal damage done by the Bush tax cuts. Only six months into his first term, after George W. Bush inherited a budget surplus from Democratic president Bill Clinton and Congress passed a $1.35 trillion, 10-year tax cut, the AP reported that “the Treasury Department was tapping $51 billion of credit in order to pay for the budgetary cost of the first round of Bush tax cuts’ rebate checks.”

This headline might have been useful in 2010, when extension of the Bush tax cuts was being avoided by timid congressional Democrats before the midterm elections, and then, afterward, steamrolled to passage by Tea Party–drunken Republicans over a passive Conciliator-in-Chief to the tune of “Kumbaya for Billionaires.” Think Progress observes, “The opponents of the tax cut turned out to be right. The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts combined have blown a $2.5 trillion hole in America’s budget and created deficits stretching on for years.”

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  • To see how well the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 performed in creating jobs and distributing tax relief among income levels, check out this report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Republican-led White House, Congress Built This Deficit

How was it looking four years later? Projections released by the Congressional Budget Office in January 2005 showed that “changes in law” enacted since January 2001 had increased the deficit by $539 billion. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that “in the absence of such legislation, the nation would have a surplus this year” (our emphasis). Tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 accounted for nearly half of the revenue shortfall (see chart below). Although the deficit was blamed on “runaway domestic spending” or growth in the costs of entitlement programs (sound familiar?), in fact by January 2005 tax cuts and defense + homeland security expenditures accounted for 85% of the deficit.

 


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“High Popalorum” and “Low Popahirum”: Huey P. Long on the Difference between Democrats and Republicans

Monday, July 18th, 2011

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While we’re either gnawing our knuckles or blissfully unaware there’s a debt ceiling hostage crisis now in its —th week . . . While the putatively Democratic President again invites the Republican House leaders to the White House over the weekend to discuss how the federal budget can be trimmed further to accommodate those gentlemen’s concerns while getting nothing in return for the revenue-starved U.S. Treasury, we thought some relevant amusement might be in order.

In this clip from the mid 1930s, Louisiana senator (and effectively still governor) Huey P. Long uses an old country anecdote about a drummer (salesman) of patent medicines called High Popalorum and Low Popahirum—depending on whether the tree’s bark is stripped from the top down or the bottom up—to describe the difference between “the Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership” in Congress.

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“They Need to Do Their Job.”

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Obama Bitch-Slaps G.O.P. Deficit Hardliners, Hell-Bent Extremists

“Before we ask our seniors to pay more for health care, before we cut our children’s education, before we sacrifice our commitment to the research and innovation that will help create more jobs in the economy, I think it’s only fair to ask an oil company or a corporate jet owner that has done so well to give up a tax break that no other business enjoys. I don’t think that’s real radical. I think the majority of Americans agree with that.”

“I’ve said to some of the Republican leaders, you go talk to your constituents, the Republican constituents, and ask them are they willing to compromise their kids’ safety so that some corporate jet owner continues to get a tax break. And I’m pretty sure what the answer would be.”

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Wednesday’s presidential press conference—the first since March—showed a combative President Obama chopping at the Republicans for a lack of fiscal seriousness and a slack work ethic. “They need to do their job” is right. And he’s doing his: defending social contract programs like Medicare and Social Security against the ideology-driven slasher nightmare of a “fiscally conservative” party that enabled a doubling of the deficit under George W. Bush (remember Dick Cheney’s “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter”?). From 2001 to 2009 the current G.O.P. leaders voted 19 times to increase the debt limit by $4 trillion. When Bush took office after Bill Clinton the budget was in the black and the Congressional Budget Office projected a $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years. Then came the cuts.

Anyway, this Barack Obama is the man we campaigned for long ago, the fighter we feared had evaporated forever in a sweet dream of (illusory) bipartisanship. We just wish Barack had bared his knuckles like this last year when the “fiscal conservatives” were pushing like hell for the Bush tax cut extension, and had fought hard before that in the unnecessarily protracted struggle for the health care reform act, and before that for the helpful but insufficient Stimulus (ARRA) of 2009.

(Obama must have been doing something right to prompt Time writer and MSNBC political analyst Mark Halperin to remark Thursday on Morning Joe, with some prompting from Joe Scarborough, “I think he was kind of a dick yesterday.”)

Last year when Obama and congressional Democrats allowed themselves—and thus the nation—to be extorted into an extension of the Bush Tax Cuts for Millionaires, the president seemed not to grasp the terrible truth that the job-killing extremists controlling the G.O.P. are fully willing to drive the U.S. economy into severe crisis in order to inflict maximum damage on this president and his party.

The President now shows signs of understanding that the Republicans really are willing to destroy the United States’s credit and economic functionality in order to inflict pain severe enough to intensify voters’ rejection of the president and his party next November.

The same so-called conservatives who cracked the whip for extension of the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires—which will add some $700 billion more to the deficit over the next 10 years—now scream that the deficit is strangling America and killing jobs. (The chart at left illustrates the Bush tax cuts’ contribution to the deficit.) They nearly forced a government shut-down in April (how disappointed they were that the crisis was averted by Democrats’ concessions) and now are forcing another crisis. Many of them actually want a shutdown, as is happening at this moment in the stalemated state of Minnesota. (Minnesota-based G.O.P. candidates Pawlenty and Bachmann approve.)

If the U.S. were to crash through the debt ceiling after August 2, would John Boehner and Mitch McConnell’s publicly funded security detail be laid off?

Paul Krugman writes in today’s New York Times (“To the Limit”) that a failure by Congress to raise the debt ceiling is not at all unthinkable:

Failure to raise the debt limit—which would, among other things, disrupt payments on existing debt—could convince investors that the United States is no longer a serious, responsible country, with nasty consequences. Furthermore, nobody knows what a U.S. default would do to the world financial system, which is built on the presumption that U.S. government debt is the ultimate safe asset.

But wait, it gets worse:

Failure to raise the debt limit would also force the U.S. government to make drastic, immediate spending cuts, on a scale that would dwarf the austerity currently being imposed on Greece. . . . slashing spending at a time when the economy is deeply depressed would destroy hundreds of thousands and quite possibly millions of jobs.

Krugman adds, ominously:

G.O.P. leaders don’t actually care about the level of debt. Instead, they’re using the threat of a debt crisis to impose an ideological agenda. . . . what’s really going on is extortion pure and simple. As Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute puts it, the G.O.P. has, in effect, come around with baseball bats and declared, “Nice economy you have here. A real shame if something happened to it.” . . . [Republicans] believe that they have the upper hand, because the public will blame the president for the economic crisis they’re threatening to create. In fact, it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that G.O.P. leaders actually want the economy to perform badly.”

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)—a careful politician who is not prone to exaggeration—made the same point this week when he said Republicans’ “slash-and-burn approach” may be part of a plan “to slow down the recovery for political gain in 2012.” Schumer cited Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s surprisingly candid remark to a reporter before the 2010 midterm elections—“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” The senior New York senator asserted, “Republicans aren’t just opposing the president any more, they are opposing the economic recovery itself . . .”

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How Many Wars? After Libya . . . ?

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

“From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli . . .”

[ also at DailyKos ]

We once made the sardonic observation that apparently the aim of the “war on terror,” rather than protecting the Homeland, was to inflame the entire Muslim world—or at least those nations possessing oil. We thought we were only being sardonic.

The U.S. has fired on Tripoli before, of course, in the First Barbary War (1801–1805)—America’s first overseas conflict as an independent nation. Then the United States had its whole future before it . . .

So now the U.S. is at war with four Muslim countries? (We’re counting the undeclared war on Pakistan, as the Afghan war, now in its 10th year, has blurred into the AfPak war, with unmanned Predator drones firing missiles that have killed countless civilians along with jihadists, particularly in Waziristan.)

In response to a request by the Arab League and pressure by France, the United Kingdom, and the U.S., the United Nations Security Council on March 17 passed a resolution demanding an end to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s excessive force against his own people as he fights furiously to crush a rebellion, and authorizing a no-fly zone and the use of military force. The Security Council measure passed with five major abstentions: Germany, Russia, China, Brazil, and India all opted not to vote. Among the Western nations, France and the United Kingdom were pushing hardest for action against Qaddafi. (Click here for a map of the conflict in Libya as of March 25.)

This blog is usually liberal/progressive (domestic policy wishers-and-dreamers), but in this case count us as foreign policy realists. The United States is in a chronic revenue crisis—while radicals in Congress are constantly threatening to shut down the government over excessive spending—and does not have the money to be firing off 110+ Tomahawk missiles at $1.4 million a pop and supporting at least 10 U.S. battleships or aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean off the coast of Libya. We already cannot afford $16 billion per month in Afghanistan (estimate by economist Joseph Stiglitz).

What Is Our Purpose in Libya? Whose Fight Is It, Anyway?

But what is the endgame? How does this play out? Now that we’re involved, the United States as the most powerful player will own the outcome (at least partly). And what will that outcome be? Who exactly are these rebels we’re supporting? (See here and here.) They are said to include the volunteers (or ideological brethren thereof) who went to Iraq to fight against “the Crusader” in the war that began in 2003—on March 19, the same day the Libya air assault began—and still has not ended. If somehow Qaddafi survives and there is an exodus of refugees from Libya, will they seek safe refuge in the United States? France? The United Kingdom? Or will the Arab League states take them in?

NBC’s chief foreign affairs correspondent Richard Engel, who is in Libya and speaks daily with rebel forces there, asks quite logically: Once the rebels feel they have an alliance with the U.S. military whose air strikes have protected them, how do you withdraw that support in a matter of “days, not weeks” without leaving them exposed to reprisals from Qaddafi if he survives in power—the very reprisals the air strikes were originally authorized to prevent? We would add: Do the rebels really have it in them to carry this fight to the finish? How much help do they need? Should outsiders assist? Can al Qaeda pitch in? If outsiders assist the Libyan rebels, what other resistance movements deserve help? Syria’s? Jordan’s? The Palestinians’, too?

What is the mission, and when will the Coalition of the Fractious know when the mission is accomplished? (The Obama administration is not exactly unanimous on the matter, either.) Are the U.S. and Europeans listening to the Arab League, or only telling them how to vote? Obama has said Qaddafi must go, yet the White House denies the U.S. is pushing for regime change. Then there’s the little matter of no congressional authorization, which has infuriated both left and right.

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