Hello There, Guest! (LoginRegister)

Post Reply 
A challenge to those on the left
Author Message
tanqtonic Offline
1st String
*

Posts: 1,702
Joined: Nov 2016
Reputation: 77
I Root For: rice
Location:
Post: #21
RE: A challenge to those on the left
(12-27-2017 05:24 AM)I45owl Wrote:  My approach to taxation and budgeting would center on these pillars:
  • Comprehensive Tax Reform (flat structure, no deductions)
  • Elimination of Social Welfare programs that contribute to the poverty trap and replace them with a Negative Income Tax
  • Line-Item Veto
  • Bismarck Health Plan

What it would require to get there is that you would need a president who is not encumbered by one political party or the other. You would have to leverage enough votes for Tax Reform by providing benefits on the lower-income side like a Negative Income Tax while removing stacked social welfare programs. Likewise, balance universal health coverage aspects provided by the kind of Health Care Plan proposed by Owl 69/70/75 paired with a line-item veto in order to get enough votes for both to pass. I would like to see a president parlay a repeal of the War Powers Act to get a line-item veto (shift one overreach of presidential power for another), helping to reduce the defense department share of the budget deficit in the process.

The approach that I think it would require politically is to combine enough votes from politicians with enough genuine interest in those programs to be willing to trade votes on aspects of the program that they wouldn't normally agree with, and pols who are pressured into agreeing to vote on one or more of the above pillars due to public pressure.

One basic problem is that we are essentially 12-13 years into a toxic political environment whose roots really run at least 25 years or so in the form of binding "no new taxes" pledges, congressional scorecards, and terms like "RINO".

Long gone are politicians like Tip O'Neil willing to genuinely work across party lines... I'd venture that votes along strict party lines are far more common today than they were 30 years ago or more... gone with the Blue-Dog Democrats and the Golden Fleece Award.

Whatever passes for cross-party voting is probably limited to niche spending programs that only serve to benefit local campaign contributors. Without the line-item veto, I think bringing the budget under control is a futile task. There are those that disagree, but the question is how to return to a long-gone Congressional ethic?

The Line-Item Veto Won't Work - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world
Quote:In our view, the malady stems from a change in the implicit “Constitutional ethic” describing the relationship between private economic actions and the government. For the first century or so of our nation’s existence, there was a commonly held view which placed most private economic activity outside the domain of government policy. The implication of this ethic is profound. If no one believes that the government is (or should be) the guarantor of income security, government transfer payments do not inflate the budget. If government intervention in private markets is not considered appropriate, agricultural price support programs do not drain the treasury.

The basic pillars I've outlined essentially attempt to contain wealth transfers that the above authors (Cott and Bohannon) find to be the root of the problem. Social welfare would be focused in direct transfers (negative income tax) and health care (which is a growing portion of the economy. I think that the public appeal of targeted subsidies - agricultural or otherwise - would be less appealing when you've also eliminated the myriad of targeted social welfare programs.

ibid
Quote:Our nation now finds itself in a situation where government wealth transfers have extended themselves into every nook and cranny of our economic life. Moreover, all social and economic ills, real or imagined, are viewed as a legitimate domain for a new government program. This is the new ethic.

The line-item veto does not arrest this process, let alone enable us to regain what we have lost. Regardless of protestations to the contrary, Presidents are political animals, indeed the most successful of the species. All members of the species find serving special-interest constituencies irresistible. This insures their survival.

The rigid application of the two-party system has bred the kind of political animals that we have, and I think it would take someone not invested in that system to really change how Congress functions. I'd like to think that is the promise that most Trump voters saw in Trump, but instead he has basically asked politicians to trade adherence to the party platform for personal loyalty to Donald Trump. What we have is the political inverse of Barack Obama, and what we will see after the next election or the one that follows is the same kind of reactionary response - while Trump is doing everything he can in his role as anti-Obama to erase the legacy of Barack Obama, the anti-Trump will do everything he or she or xhe can do to erase the legacy of Donald Trump... probably involving implementation of every nonsensical regulation they can conceive of, coupled with immediately doubling the corporate income tax. I think it's unlikely that there will be much of anything else of substance to Trump's legacy.

Problem is a line-item veto is as close to impossible to implement as you can get. No offense, but there is *no way in Hades* to get one short of a Constitutional Amendment. And getting that amendment is nearly as 'pie in the sky' as getting one without the amendment.

While I agree with you in principle, I think you might as well ask for elves to make themselves known and to spread happy elf dust on the world.

But you allude to an interesting aside: most who are not unhappy with Trump appreciate the scaling back of Executive perogative in terms of the expansion of Executive Order power. Isn't the line item veto much in the same line as that expansion of Executive power?

With Executive Orders, one can use them to make regulations and effect power of law --- but *only* where Congress has not addressed their Constitutional power. It is the inflationary expansion of Executive power checked only by the legislative power and the Constitution.

Line item would be an inflationary expansion of Executive power at the expense of legislative power.

Two sides of expansive Executive power doctrine from where I sit.
12-27-2017 03:54 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
58-56 Offline
Blazer Revolutionary
*

Posts: 11,395
Joined: Mar 2006
Reputation: 470
I Root For: Fire Ray Watts
Location: CathedraloftheDragon

BlazerTalk Award
Post: #22
RE: A challenge to those on the left
I'll take the challenge. I'm assuming that this is a magic-wand question (I don't have to get this through Congress and past the lobbyists).

1. Declare the War on Terror over and won and the Age of Empire over. The boys and girls are coming home.

2. The 2017 Defense budget is approx 820B. The 2003 budget was 420B (note: these are rounded, and can vary by source depending on how you want to account for various personnel costs). We're going to roll back to 2003 levels, and here's how:
a) Abolish the Army, Navy, Air Force and USMC. All are rolled into a unified United States Self-Defense Force (SDF). We will have massive retirements of the guys with scrambled eggs on their hats. Procurement will have but one stream. Duplicate capabilities are over (we do not need four air forces). But waah, what about tradition? You can wear your globe-eagle-and-anchor. You just don't get your own trough any more.
b) We will close many, many bases. But waah, what about jobs? We do not need armed welfare. There's work at the post office.
c) The Nuclear Triad becomes the Nuclear Uni-ad. Doesn't really matter which, but two of the missiles/submarines/bombers are done.
d) We're rolling the hell back on procurement. But waah, what if Zimbabwe develops modern forces 20 years from now? Mussolini's Italy went to war in 1940 with the very very best weapons of . . . 1930. We're not going to follow that route. A powerful economy is our best defense, for it can provide the very best stuff when we need it. Not before.
e) We're rolling the VA medical system into Medicare.
f) We're rolling most contract work back into uniform. There is no reason for the United States to ever hire a gun-toting yahoo merc to do a soldier's job. Or peel potatoes.
g) If you've worked in procurement, you can never, ever work in the defense industry. Ever.

3. We're slashing the Department of Fatherland Security's 44 billion, too.

That cuts approx 420 billion. The federal deficit is currently 666 billion (again, you can find different figures for various reasons/assumptions).

4. We're enacting the DeFazio financial transactions tax on Wall Street. That raises approx. 150 billion. It does not impinge individual investors, savers etc. though the Harry and Louise ads will be out in force telling you different.

5. The estate tax is back, and it's better than ever. **** you, Fauntleroy. That's $20 billion at 2017, but we'll take $30B from the trust funders. They can go take one of those potato-peeler MOS's at the new USSDF.

6. We're legalizing marijuana, with a federal tax. The Tax Foundation estimates that's worth 28 billion.

7. Medicare's expanding, and will have a buy-in public option, and will be allowed to negotiate drug prices. That last has savings estimates of up to $300B, but that's probably exaggerated. Even so, at half that it covers the expansion, the public option and the takeover of VA functions, while providing that last missing 20B and somewhat more.

8. We're already in surplus, but we're going to legalize a great increase in immigration with a twist: an SSI surcharge for immigrants. You can have a work visa, but you're paying 125% of citizen withholding.

9. And while we're at it, we're going to hire on a few thousand extra bureaucrats and audit the hell out of SSI disability payments across the board.

10. And since we're smacking Big Pharma, we're also going to prosecute willful marketing of opioids for profit as second-degree murder.

11. And we're going to reverse the Trumpazoid tax scheme, since we want actual economic growth. You'll pay more to inherit or to shuffle paper. You'll pay less if you worked for the money. Working your ass off over sitting on your fat ass.

12. We're soaking the rich, way worse than Obama, Clinton or Bernie wanted.

13. Now that we have a surplus, we're enacting a public infrastructure program, bigly. Public. Not a giveaway to investors.



So. The budget is balanced, and we're in a state of open warfare with every major pressure group except the NRA and AARP. And if I'm in charge I'm coming for your guns so that just leaves the old folks. I'm sure I can come up with something to piss them off, too.
12-28-2017 12:09 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Owl 69/70/75 Offline
Just an old rugby coach
*

Posts: 52,714
Joined: Sep 2005
Reputation: 920
I Root For: RiceBathChelsea
Location: Montgomery, TX

DonatorsNew Orleans Bowl
Post: #23
RE: A challenge to those on the left
While agree with legalizing marijuana, what you have described is a country in which I would have zero interest in living.
12-28-2017 07:00 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
58-56 Offline
Blazer Revolutionary
*

Posts: 11,395
Joined: Mar 2006
Reputation: 470
I Root For: Fire Ray Watts
Location: CathedraloftheDragon

BlazerTalk Award
Post: #24
RE: A challenge to those on the left
(12-28-2017 07:00 PM)Owl 69/70/75 Wrote:  While agree with legalizing marijuana, what you have described is a country in which I would have zero interest in living.

While there are programs I'd like to cut, and others I'd expand, they're really irrelevant next to that Defense number. I don't see any way toward a balanced budget that includes spending on that level.

It's pretty easy in a magic-wand exercise, but given the entrenched lobbying power of the defense industry, the insider knowledge afforded by the revolving door and the strategic location of military bases (and procurement) in key Congressional districts, I don't see it happening.

You can say, "raid Medicare instead," but that implies finding a political road to maintaining contributions as just plain tax money. Or you can try to screw the poor out of all programs (Medicaid 348B, food stamps 75B) but that raises the point I've never seen raised here (I'm sure it has, I just don't read here all that often): street revolution.

Do we want to be asking if American troops will fire on American civilians?

We can come up with all sorts of religious/moral posturing to hide the real reason, but we give the poor bread and circuses because we're afraid of what they'll do without them. Concealed carry will not save you.

Sacrifice the Empire, uplift the poor, let the rich make do with two yachts instead of five. It's way better than the alternative.
12-28-2017 10:03 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Owl 69/70/75 Offline
Just an old rugby coach
*

Posts: 52,714
Joined: Sep 2005
Reputation: 920
I Root For: RiceBathChelsea
Location: Montgomery, TX

DonatorsNew Orleans Bowl
Post: #25
RE: A challenge to those on the left
(12-28-2017 10:03 PM)58-56 Wrote:  
(12-28-2017 07:00 PM)Owl 69/70/75 Wrote:  While agree with legalizing marijuana, what you have described is a country in which I would have zero interest in living.
While there are programs I'd like to cut, and others I'd expand, they're really irrelevant next to that Defense number. I don't see any way toward a balanced budget that includes spending on that level.
It's pretty easy in a magic-wand exercise, but given the entrenched lobbying power of the defense industry, the insider knowledge afforded by the revolving door and the strategic location of military bases (and procurement) in key Congressional districts, I don't see it happening.
You can say, "raid Medicare instead," but that implies finding a political road to maintaining contributions as just plain tax money. Or you can try to screw the poor out of all programs (Medicaid 348B, food stamps 75B) but that raises the point I've never seen raised here (I'm sure it has, I just don't read here all that often): street revolution.
Do we want to be asking if American troops will fire on American civilians?
We can come up with all sorts of religious/moral posturing to hide the real reason, but we give the poor bread and circuses because we're afraid of what they'll do without them. Concealed carry will not save you.
Sacrifice the Empire, uplift the poor, let the rich make do with two yachts instead of five. It's way better than the alternative.

Basically you said "F-U" to every producer and every one serving or who has served in the military. As a member of both groups, no thanks.
12-28-2017 10:58 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Owl 69/70/75 Offline
Just an old rugby coach
*

Posts: 52,714
Joined: Sep 2005
Reputation: 920
I Root For: RiceBathChelsea
Location: Montgomery, TX

DonatorsNew Orleans Bowl
Post: #26
RE: A challenge to those on the left
You are not going to balance the budget without increasing revenues. I would do the with a consumption tax that would also allow me to lower and flatten income tax structures, and eliminate most if not all itemized deductions. And I'd replace Medicaid and subsidize a bunch of Medicare by adopting Bismarck health care. And I'd replace the current welfare hodgepodge with a guaranteed basic income, using either Milton Friedman's negative income tax or the Boortz-Linder prebate/prefund. I'd farm the current mishmash of focused welfare programs out to the states. letting them pay for it with their savings from eliminating Medicaid. And I'd legalize marijuana and tax it, plus increasing Pigovian taxes on alcohol, cigarettes, and motor fuel.

I'm looking at numbers like this if we eliminate the individual income tax altogether:

Start with a deficit of about $600 billion.
15% consumption tax generates $2,200 billion, less prebate/prefund of $960 billion, for net of $1,240 billion, compared with individual income tax generations $1,660 billion, or $420 billion less in net revenues. But with the prebate/prefund, we can eliminate or farm to states about $380 billion in welfare programs, so w e are net down only $40 billion.
15% flat tax on all business and investment income, including current passthrough entities (which could be taxed at either entity or owner level) would generate about $750 billion, compared to current corporate tax income of $320 billion, for $450 billion increase, so we are cumulatively reducing the deficit $410 billion.
Cost of Bismarck health care about $1,000 billion, compared to eliminating Medicaid of $480 billion, plus Bismarck would reduce costs of Medicaid and VA by about $165 billion and $15 billion, respectively, for net cost of $340 billion, but we have true universal health care, and cumulative deficit reduction is $70 billion.
Get rid of the wage cap on SS taxes, and that generates another $80 billion, so the cumulative deficit reduction is $150 billion.
Increase Pigovin taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and motor fuel by a combined $150 billion, and add $28 billion from legalizing and taxing marijuana, and the net deficit reduction is $328 billion, or about half from revenue side.

As for defense, we could save about $20 billion by doing the Israel/Switzerland/Sweden thing and converting 400,000 active duty slots to 1,000,000 receive slots, thus actually raising end strength while cutting costs. Our total defense budget is about 9% combat, 14% combat support, and 77% administration and overhead. We could probably hack $100 billion from the administration and overhead part, but we probably need to spend part of that upgrade combat and combat support. Say we get net savings of $50 billion from the effort, or $70 billion in total. We could also exert pressure on our allies to pick up more of the burden, and that would let us make further reductions in time, but for now let's say we've reduced the deficit by a cumulative $398 billion.

That leaves a $200 billion deficit, without considering the growth impact of this tax structure, which I think would generate enough additional revenues to eliminate that remaining deficit. If not, come back and tweak it with minor adjustments the way GHWB and Bill Clinton did, to get it into balance.
(This post was last modified: 12-29-2017 12:01 AM by Owl 69/70/75.)
12-28-2017 11:48 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Owl 69/70/75 Offline
Just an old rugby coach
*

Posts: 52,714
Joined: Sep 2005
Reputation: 920
I Root For: RiceBathChelsea
Location: Montgomery, TX

DonatorsNew Orleans Bowl
Post: #27
RE: A challenge to those on the left
(12-28-2017 10:03 PM)58-56 Wrote:  
(12-28-2017 07:00 PM)Owl 69/70/75 Wrote:  While agree with legalizing marijuana, what you have described is a country in which I would have zero interest in living.
While there are programs I'd like to cut, and others I'd expand, they're really irrelevant next to that Defense number. I don't see any way toward a balanced budget that includes spending on that level.
It's pretty easy in a magic-wand exercise, but given the entrenched lobbying power of the defense industry, the insider knowledge afforded by the revolving door and the strategic location of military bases (and procurement) in key Congressional districts, I don't see it happening.
You can say, "raid Medicare instead," but that implies finding a political road to maintaining contributions as just plain tax money. Or you can try to screw the poor out of all programs (Medicaid 348B, food stamps 75B) but that raises the point I've never seen raised here (I'm sure it has, I just don't read here all that often): street revolution.
Do we want to be asking if American troops will fire on American civilians?
We can come up with all sorts of religious/moral posturing to hide the real reason, but we give the poor bread and circuses because we're afraid of what they'll do without them. Concealed carry will not save you.
Sacrifice the Empire, uplift the poor, let the rich make do with two yachts instead of five. It's way better than the alternative.

I really, really intensely despise all this class warfare rhetoric. There are two ways to reduce income and wealth inequality--make the rich poorer or make the poor richer. I much prefer the latter. I get the distinct impression that many on the left would be happy with the poor getting poorer, as long as the rich got poorer too. I'd rather make both groups richer, and the way to do that is the only thing that has ever worked to do that in the history of the world--free market capitalism.

Trying to make the "rich" poorer will never work so long as 1) they don't want to be poorer and 2) they have options. And both of those are likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future.
12-28-2017 11:58 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
I45owl Offline
Hall of Famer
*

Posts: 17,828
Joined: Jun 2005
Reputation: 172
I Root For: Rice Owls
Location: Dallas, TX

New Orleans Bowl
Post: #28
RE: A challenge to those on the left
(12-27-2017 03:54 PM)tanqtonic Wrote:  Problem is a line-item veto is as close to impossible to implement as you can get. No offense, but there is *no way in Hades* to get one short of a Constitutional Amendment. And getting that amendment is nearly as 'pie in the sky' as getting one without the amendment.
While I agree with you in principle, I think you might as well ask for elves to make themselves known and to spread happy elf dust on the world.
But you allude to an interesting aside: most who are not unhappy with Trump appreciate the scaling back of Executive perogative in terms of the expansion of Executive Order power. Isn't the line item veto much in the same line as that expansion of Executive power?
With Executive Orders, one can use them to make regulations and effect power of law --- but *only* where Congress has not addressed their Constitutional power. It is the inflationary expansion of Executive power checked only by the legislative power and the Constitution.
Line item would be an inflationary expansion of Executive power at the expense of legislative power.
Two sides of expansive Executive power doctrine from where I sit.

Sadly, I agree with you on most, if not all, points. Regarding expanded Executive power, the only thing worse is expanded Legislative power.

That said, I'd rather have expanded Executive power in the form of restraining the budget as opposed to granting the President the power to fight
wars at his whim.

I am not sure that the Founders had a solution to legislative self-restraint. As conceived, the bicameral Legislature represented states interests versus local interest. I am not sure there is any benefit to having a bicameral Legislature where there is no substantial difference between who they represent and how they are elected.
12-29-2017 02:07 AM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Owl 69/70/75 Offline
Just an old rugby coach
*

Posts: 52,714
Joined: Sep 2005
Reputation: 920
I Root For: RiceBathChelsea
Location: Montgomery, TX

DonatorsNew Orleans Bowl
Post: #29
RE: A challenge to those on the left
The whole idea of defense cuts needs to be discussed within the proper context. Yes, we spend more on defense than the next however many countries combined.

One, the biggest single cost component is personnel, and we pay our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines far better than most other countries. This is partly because we have an all-volunteer force, and it almost certainly means that ours are better quality--something that is extremely important in today's highly technical military world.

Two, we may be there now, but China and Russia and others are stepping up defense spending a lot faster than we are. If present trends continue, we won't be that far ahead of the pack, or even ahead of the pack at all, in several years.

Three, and this is not well understood, our military has a completely different--and more expensive--mission from any other military force in the world. Prior to WWI, the world was comprised of a number of competing imperial systems--British, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Turkish, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, even Dutch, Portuguese, and Belgian among others. This started to fall apart in WWI with the collapse of the German, Austro-Hungarian, Turkish, and to some extent Russian empires. Between the wars, Japan grew as an imperial power and Russia re-established imperial control under the communists. Leftover tensions from WWI eventually sparked WWII, which brought about the end of the imperial era. Japan lost its empire, Germany abandoned imperial ambitions, Italy lost its colonies, and UK, France, Belgium, Portugal, and Holland began divesting theirs. The world was left with two powers--US and the Soviet Union. Except for the US, the developed world (including a big hunk of the other power, Russia) was pretty much destroyed in WWII.

So at Bretton Woods we made the other western countries a deal--we will help you recover economically, and in return you will follow our lead in fighting the Cold War. You don't need to keep your large navies to protect trade with your colonies. We will take the lead in freeing trade worldwide, and we will guarantee safe passage for that trade, as long as you do what we tell you to do militarily. The Dutch and Canadians and Australians eventually got rid of their aircraft carriers, battleships and cruisers virtually disappeared from all navies except the US and Russian. Other countries cut way back on their defense spending, with no colonies to defend and with the US guaranteeing their trade routes. You had two dueling superpowers and a bunch of self-defense forces. Then a funny thing happened--we won. And we were totally unprepared for that to happen.

So here we are, almost 30 years later, still carrying out the Bretton Woods model. The problem is that we can't really abandon the military obligations we took away from all those other countries until they are willing to take them back. And the economic preferences we extended to them so they could rebuild their countries are starting to get past the point that we can continue to afford them.

But when Trump starts talking about other countries picking up their fair share of defense costs, he gets slammed for "destroying NATO." And when congress passes a tax bill that puts US corporations on more of a level playing field with the rest of the world, they get slammed for a "giveaway to the rich."

I don't think we can or should engage is the kinds of trade protectionist practices that Trump advocates. But what we can do to level the field in international trade even more is to implement a consumption tax. This could also balance our budget, which we need to do. It could also fund Bismarck health care and a universal basic income. With those things in place, we don't really need our current "poverty trap" welfare system. Let the states pick it up, if they want to, with what they are saving because Bismarck would make Medicaid redundant.

That would largely undo the economic half of Bretton Woods. To undo the military half, which is necessary if we are going to cut defense spending substantially, we are going to have to convince the rest off the world to pick up the slack. They already have, in operations like dealing with the Indian Ocean pirate threat. But it's going to take some negotiations to get there.

One interesting proposal I've seen, with Brexit leading UK to forge closer relations with the Commonwealth, and with UK getting two large VSTOL carriers and India building some STOBAR carriers, is for the Commonwealth countries to combine their defense forces. That would form a force somewhere around half the size of ours. I would also consider some sort of combined relationship between our armed forces and such a Commonwealth force. I would be open to taking it further in the form of some kind of associate membership with the Commonwealth. I can see significant advantages for trade and the economy. In that regard, there has also been some discussion about UK joining NAFTA once Brexit is done.

Of the places where I think we can cut defense spending, one big one is very simple--never fight a war that we don't intend to win. Under the Bretton Woods model, we got drawn into a number of "limited" conflicts like Vietnam and the current Mideast mess, where we didn't even know what victory was, much less how to attain it. If we are spending $100 billion a year on those efforts, we need to come home and save the money. The faster we quit meddling in the Middle East, the faster we will stop terrorist threats against us. We are trying to fight an idea by occupying territory, and that doesn't work.

Another one is our forward deployed troops. The way I see it, there are three potential world hot spots--China Sea, Mideast, and eastern Europe. It seems to me that our strategy should be contain each one within its geographic confines, and within those confines pass the torch to our allies to maintain the balance of power. Consistent with that, we don't need the numbers of personnel advance deployed in any of them. Pull back and replace many active duty slots with ready reservists, who are available if we need them but cost a fraction as much--the Israel/Switzerland/Sweden model. I'd actually favor growing end strength while cutting costs by replacing 400,000 actives with 1,000,000 reservists.

Another is procurement. Go back to the "high/low" mix that Elmo Zumwalt used to preserve nay strength in the drawdown after Vietnam, an approach the proved immensely valuable in Reagan's successful effort to break the back of the "evil empire." We need 12carriers to cary out our worldwide mission, the numbers just don't work otherwise. But we can't afford 12 Fords. So for what we plan to spend for 9 Fords. build 6 Fords and 6 like Kitty Hawk or the UK QEII class with catapults (possibly some catapults and a ski jump, for better interoperability with other navies). Same for our amphib forces, where the LHAs/LHDs are very capable ships, but also very expensive, and a larger number of smaller ships with more varied capabilities avoids problems like having one torpedo take out an entire invasion force, or not having enough hulls to have one standing off Benghazi when our ambassador was there. Same for cruisers/destroyers, where the Burkes are great, but we need something cheaper and more numerous for things like IO pirate patrol, or ASW (where we have really lost a lot of capability, and Burkes are not that well suited, just as Russia and China are building more subs). Similarly for the F-35, where trying to make one aircraft perform three distinct missions (fighter/interceptor, ground attack, and VSTOL multirole) has caused potentially harmful design compromises and drastically escalated costs). Have a top-of-line F-22, then three more strictly purpose-designed aircraft. And bring back "design to cost."

Another is to cut our boated defense admin/overhead. We have more people in the Pentagon today than it took us to win WWII. And depending on how you define ships, the Navy has more admirals than ships, or comes very close. We spend 9% on combat, 14% on combat support, and 77% on admin/overhead, compared with theres of OECD which spends 14%/23%/63% respectively. Getting our overhead in line with OECD norms could save up to $100 billion. There would be a real estate bust in Northern Virginia, but oh well. Now I would spend some portion of that savings on combat and combat support, because we are way overstretched in those areas right now--the number of multiple deployments to the Middle East and the collisions between warships and commercial vessels being two indicia.

These are things that could end up giving us a stronger defense force for maybe $100-150 billion less than we now spend.
(This post was last modified: 12-30-2017 04:51 PM by Owl 69/70/75.)
12-30-2017 11:37 AM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
arkstfan Away
Sorry folks
*

Posts: 20,507
Joined: Feb 2004
Reputation: 574
I Root For: Fresh Starts
Location:
Post: #30
RE: A challenge to those on the left
(12-30-2017 11:37 AM)Owl 69/70/75 Wrote:  The whole idea of defense cuts needs to be discussed within the proper context. Yes, we spend more on defense than the next however many countries combined.

One, the biggest single cost component is personnel, and we pay our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines far better than most other countries. This is partly because we have an all-volunteer force, and it almost certainly means that ours are better quality--something that is extremely important in today's highly technical military world.

Two, we may be there now, but China and Russia and others are stepping up defense spending a lot faster than we are. If present trends continue, we won't be that far ahead of the pack, or even ahead of the pack at all, in several years.

Three, and this is not well understood, our military has a completely different--and more expensive--mission from any other military force in the world. Prior to WWI, the world was comprised of a number of competing imperial systems--British, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Turkish, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, even Dutch, Portuguese, and Belgian among others. This started to fall apart in WWI with the collapse of the German, Austro-Hungarian, Turkish, and to some extent Russian empires. Between the wars, Japan grew as an imperial power and Russia re-established imperial control under the communists. Leftover tensions from WWI eventually sparked WWII, which brought about the end of the imperial era. Japan lost its empire, Germany abandoned imperial ambitions, Italy lost its colonies, and UK, France, Belgium, Portugal, and Holland began divesting theirs. The world was left with two powers--US and the Soviet Union. Except for the US, the developed world (including a big hunk of the other power, Russia) was pretty much destroyed in WWII.

So at Bretton Woods we made the other western countries a deal--we will help you recover economically, and in return you will follow our lead in fighting the Cold War. You don't need to keep your large navies to protect trade with your colonies. We will take the lead in freeing trade worldwide, and we will guarantee safe passage for that trade, as long as you do what we tell you to do militarily. The Dutch and Canadians and Australians eventually got rid of their aircraft carriers, battleships and cruisers virtually disappeared from all navies except the US and Russian. Other countries cut way back on their defense spending, with no colonies to defend and with the US guaranteeing their trade routes. You had two dueling superpowers and a bunch of self-defense forces. Then a funny thing happened--we won. And we were totally unprepared for that to happen.

So here we are, almost 30 years later, still carrying out the Bretton Woods model. The problem is that we can't really abandon the military obligations we took away from all those other countries until they are willing to take them back. And the economic preferences we extended to them so they could rebuild their countries are starting to get past the point that we can continue to afford them.

But when Trump starts talking about other countries picking up their fair share of defense costs, he gets slammed for "destroying NATO." And when congress passes a tax bill that puts US corporations on more of a level playing field with the rest of the world, they get slammed for a "giveaway to the rich."

I don't think we can or should engage is the kinds of trade protectionist practices that Trump advocates. But what we can do to level the field in international trade even more is to implement a consumption tax. This could also balance our budget, which we need to do. It could also fund Bismarck health care and a universal basic income. With those things in place, we don't really need our current "poverty trap" welfare system. Let the states pick it up, if they want to, with what they are saving because Bismarck would make Medicaid redundant.

That would largely undo the economic half of Bretton Woods. To undo the military half, which is necessary if we are going to cut defense spending substantially, we are going to have to convince the rest off the world to pick up the slack. They already have, in operations like dealing with the Indian Ocean pirate threat. But it's going to take some negotiations to get there.

One interesting proposal I've seen, with Brexit leading UK to forge closer relations with the Commonwealth, and with UK getting two large VSTOL carriers and India building some STOBAR carriers, is for the Commonwealth countries to combine their defense forces. That would form a force somewhere around half the size of ours. I would also consider some sort of combined relationship between our armed forces and such a Commonwealth force. I would be open to taking it further in the form of some kind of associate membership with the Commonwealth. I can see significant advantages for trade and the economy. In that regard, there has also been some discussion about UK joining NAFTA once Brexit is done.

Of the places where I think we can cut defense spending, one big one is very simple--never fight a war that we don't intend to win. Under the Bretton Woods model, we got drawn into a number of "limited" conflicts like Vietnam and the current Mideast mess, where we didn't even know what victory was, much less how to attain it. If we are spending $100 billion a year on those efforts, we need to come home and save the money. The faster we quit meddling in the Middle East, the faster we will stop terrorist threats against us. We are trying to fight an idea by occupying territory, and that doesn't work.

Another one is our forward deployed troops. The way I see it, there are three potential world hot spots--China Sea, Mideast, and eastern Europe. It seems to me that our strategy should be contain each one within its geographic confines, and within those confines pass the torch to our allies to maintain the balance of power. Consistent with that, we don't need the numbers of personnel advance deployed in any of them. Pull back and replace many active duty slots with ready reservists, who are available if we need them but cost a fraction as much--the Israel/Switzerland/Sweden model. I'd actually favor growing end strength while cutting costs by replacing 400,000 actives with 1,000,000 reservists.

Another is procurement. Go back to the "high/low" mix that Elmo Zumwalt used to preserve nay strength in the drawdown after Vietnam, an approach the proved immensely valuable in Reagan's successful effort to break the back of the "evil empire." We need 12carriers to cary out our worldwide mission, the numbers just don't work otherwise. But we can't afford 12 Fords. So for what we plan to spend for 9 Fords. build 6 Fords and 6 like Kitty Hawk or the UK QEII class with catapults (possibly some catapults and a ski jump, for better interoperability with other navies). Same for our amphib forces, where the LHAs/LHDs are very capable ships, but also very expensive, and a larger number of smaller ships with more varied capabilities avoids problems like having one torpedo take out an entire invasion force, or not having enough hulls to have one standing off Benghazi when our ambassador was there. Same for cruisers/destroyers, where the Burkes are great, but we need something cheaper and more numerous for things like IO pirate patrol, or ASW (where we have really lost a lot of capability, and Burkes are not that well suited, just as Russia and China are building more subs). Similarly for the F-35, where trying to make one aircraft perform three distinct missions (fighter/interceptor, ground attack, and VSTOL multirole) has caused potentially harmful design compromises and drastically escalated costs). Have a top-of-line F-22, then three more strictly purpose-designed aircraft. And bring back "design to cost."

Another is to cut our boated defense admin/overhead. We have more people in the Pentagon today than it took us to win WWII. And depending on how you define ships, the Navy has more admirals than ships, or comes very close. We spend 9% on combat, 14% on combat support, and 77% on admin/overhead, compared with theres of OECD which spends 14%/23%/63% respectively. Getting our overhead in line with OECD norms could save up to $100 billion. There would be a real estate bust in Northern Virginia, but oh well. Now I would spend some portion of that savings on combat and combat support, because we are way overstretched in those areas right now--the number of multiple deployments to the Middle East and the collisions between warships and commercial vessels being two indicia.

These are things that could end up giving us a stronger defense force for maybe $100-150 billion less than we now spend.

I see the defense budget as a microcosm of our fundamental budget issues.
We want a military that can engage and fight constantly but we have little tolerance for the consequences of that (loss of life). We spend heavily on systems that can move us closer and closer to a no American life lost cost (not being critical of the goal) but that is super expensive and the closer we get to achieving it the less reserved we are about using military force and the more we use it, the more it costs.

What we have as a nation is the desire for a government that can grease the skids of the economy and insures no one starves to death and everyone can have incredible medical care but we have no taste for paying for those things nor do we have the stomach for any sort of program that might rein in costs.
12-31-2017 02:15 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply 




User(s) browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)


Copyright © 2002-2018 Collegiate Sports Nation Bulletin Board System (CSNbbs), All Rights Reserved.
CSNbbs is an independent fan site and is in no way affiliated to the NCAA or any of the schools and conferences it represents.
This site monetizes links. FTC Disclosure.
Powered By MyBB, © 2002-2018 MyBB Group.