The Military-Industrial Complex’s Latest Best Friend – Barack Obama

Monday, November 2, 2015
By Paul Martin

by Chuck Spinney via The Blaster blog,
ZeroHedge.com
11/01/2015

The Pentagon just won another small skirmish in its long war with Social Security and Medicare. That is the unstated message of the budget deal just announced gleefully by congressional leaders and the President. To understand why, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.

Last January, President Obama submitted Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget to Congress, and he proposed to break the spending limits on both defense and domestic programs. These limits are set by the long-term sequester provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), which, for better or worse, is the law of the land, and Obama was asking Congress to change the law. Mr. Obama wanted to finance his ramped up spending proposals by increasing taxes. Of course, he knew that the Republican controlled Congress lusted for defense increases but hated domestic spending, particularly entitlements. Moreover, he knew increasing taxes was like waving the red cape in front of the Republican budget bulls. So, he knew his budget would be dead on arrival. Obama’s budget, nevertheless, had one virtue: it was up front about the intractable nature of the budget problem. In effect, whether deliberately or not, Obama laid a trap that the Republicans merrily walked into during the ensuing spring and summer.

Obama’s gambit set into motion a tortured kabuki dance in the Republican controlled Congress. The Republicans, as Obama well knew, wanted to keep up the appearances of adhering to the BCA. But at the same time, they wanted desperately to shovel money into the Pentagon’s coffers. The net result was that Obama’s proposal triggered a series of increasingly irrational Congressional negotiations, bizarre back-room deals and weird budget resolutions. These machinations came to a head with the passage of a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that proposed to (1) keep the Pentagon’s base budget at the BCA level of about $499 billion, but (2) pack the accounts in the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingencies Operations fund (OCO) with a programs and pork that should have been in its base budget. The reason for the dodgy OCO ‘slush fund’ rested in the politically irresistible fact that the OCO is a separate war-fighting fund** for the Pentagon that is exempt from the spending limits set by the BCA’s sequester provisions. The net result of the smoke and mirrors by the Budget and Armed Services Committees of Congress was a total defense budget that was almost identical to Obama’s original submission, but one that was not accompanied by his domestic funding increases or his tax increases. And this monstrosity was all wrapped up in a ridiculous pretense of adhering to the BCA limits.

Last week, President Obama seemed to close the trap by vetoing the 2016 NDAA. But this too was smoke and mirrors.

The veto put in motion yet another kabuki dance, this time behind closed doors between the White House and the leaders of Congress. The goal was to reach an overall budget deal that would avoid a government shutdown, which the majority Republicans were terrified of being blamed for on the eve of an election year. At the same time, they wanted to dodge the BCA’s sequester bullet while they shoveled more money into the Pentagon.

The Rest…HERE

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