Thursday, April 11, 2013

They're gutting Social Security but want to keep sending billions to Iraq?

Norman Solomon (ZNet) writes of Barack's efforts to gut Social Security in the new 'budget':

Obama’s move to cut Social Security is certainly outrageous, and it’s encouraging that a wide range of progressive groups are steamed at Obama as never before. But this kind of outrage should have reached a “boiling point” a long time ago. The administration’s undermining of civil liberties, scant action on climate change, huge escalation of war in Afghanistan, expansion of drone warfare, austerity policies serving Wall Street and shafting Main Street, vast deference to corporate power. . . The list is long and chilling.
So is the evasive record of many groups that are now denouncing Obama’s plan to cut Social Security. Mostly, their leaders griped in private and made nice with the Obama White House in public.
Yet imagine if those groups had polarized with President Obama in 2009 on even a couple of key issues. Such progressive independence would have shown the public that there is indeed a left in this country -- that the left has principles and stands up for them -- and that Obama, far from being on the left, is in the center. Such principled clarity would have undermined the right-wing attacks on Obama as a radical, socialist, etc. -- and from the beginning could have gotten some victories out of Obama, instead of waiting more than four years to take him on.
Whether or not Obama’s vicious assault on Social Security is successful, it has already jolted an unprecedented number of longtime supporters. It should be the last straw, suffused with illumination.

Trina covered this topic last night and noted Senator Bernie Sanders, Chocolate City, the AFL-CIO and Major Garrett's report for CBS NewsAnn covered it noting Patrick Burr; and Mike covered it noting David Walsh, Bruce A. Dixon and Ruth Conniff.  In addition, Wally and Cedric covered it yesterday ("THIS JUST IN! HE GRABS THE SCISSORS!" and "FDR rolls over in his grave") and today ("THIS JUST IN! HOW THEY LOVE TO WHORE!" and "The American Whore Corps").

We've covered Senator Bernie Sander's explaining how "Chained CPI" (Chained Consumer Price Index) works -- it's not a plus.  But because of our focus and because Sanders is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, we're going to with the exchange he had with the VFW Commander in Chief John Hamilton in a joint-hearing held by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the House Veterans Affairs Committee on March 5th:

Chair Bernie Sanders:  Let me begin by asking a couple of questions.  One on budgetary issues and one on the unemployment situation.  As I mentioned in my opening remarks, there is a proposal floating around which would reconfigure how COLAs [Cost Of Living Adjustments] for Social Security beneficiaries and disabled veterans are calculated.  What that proposed change in the annual Cost Of Living Adjustments, COLAs, are calculated would mean that veterans who started receiving VA disability benefits at age 30 -- not uncommon -- would have their benefits reduced by $1,425 at age 45, $2341 at age 55 and $3231 at age 65 according to the Congressional Budget Office.  Commander Hamilton or anybody else at the table, could you describe for us the real world consequences that using this so-called Chained CPI would have on disabled veterans and surviving family members.


John E. Hamilton:  Senator, thank you for the question.  I think our disabled veterans have given enough.  They've given enough.  And obviously we're opposed to that, we remain opposed to that and-and we'll always be opposed to that.   Look, when people live on disability, live on that, it's an increased hardship for them.  And we'll continue to do so -- we'll be happy to talk -- our people and your people -- about why and how ever --


Chair Bernie Sanders:  But I think what you're saying is that you perceive the benefits now not being overly generous.  Is that right?


John E. Hamilton:  Absolutely right.  Absolutely correct.  Let me -- You know, there's a guy in here named Mike Ferguson, Senator, who's one of my heroes.  Mike was a young Marine, lost both his legs, both above the knee, okay?  You can never repay that young man for his service to this country enough.  1% keeps us free.  Take care of our heroes, take care of our brothers.


Chair Bernie Sanders:  And the only point I want to make is the theory behind this is that we have been "too generous" in cost of living increases [laughter] -- I know.  That's right.  People laugh.  That's the theory that's circulating around here and that's the theory we want to defeat, I think. 

That's the reality of what's coming.   Senator Bernie Sanders offered hard numbers.  You're not reading those numbers in the coverage.

Other numbers you don't read about is how much the US government still expects taxpayers to fork over for Iraq.  While Barack moves to break the Social Contract the FDR era made with Americans, he still wants to send billions overseas to Iraq where the war is supposedly over.

From the White House's website, this is [PDF format warning] "Department of State and Other International Programs:"

Includes $6.8 billion for the frontline states of Iaq ($2.1 billion), Afghanistan ($3.4 billion), and Packistan ($1.4 billion), including $3 billion in base funding and $3.8 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding. The Budget prioritizes core diplomatic and development activities to ensure strong, lasting partnerships with these countries and to promote stability.

 Please note that the $2.1 billion isn't all that the State Dept wants to spend in Iraq during the fiscal year.  Nor does that necessarily include USAID's 'needed' funds for Iraq.  It doesn't address DoD's spending in Iraq either.

Oh, yeah, the war didn't end.  (We went over the DoD's "Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013" was covered in the March 26th snapshot.)  So what's the final bill for the US taxpayer for the costs of Iraq?  $5 billion?  $6 billion?  When all the agencies add up their costs, just what is the US taxpayer spending for Iraq 'operations' -- a war that supposedly ended?

The taxpayers won't get that answer.  It's not like Nancy Pelosi gives a damn.  Most of the anti-war members of Congress have left the Congress (some by choice, some not) and those who remain know no one in leadership gives a damn.

So the US taxpayer is again on the hook for billions because, without them, Nouri's government would collapse.  How many years are the American people supposed to support the corrupt government of Nouri al-Maliki?  How many more billions will it take?

The following community sites -- plus, Reality Observer and Ms. magazine's blog  -- updated last night and this morning:

Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee.  Her office issued the following yesterday:


April 10, 2013
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834

Murray Mental Health Bill Clears Committee Hurdle

In wake of recent tragedies, Murray provision in mental health package provides support for children and families affected by trauma

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, legislation authored by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) to provide increased support for children and families affected by trauma, passed through the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee as part of a larger package addressing mental health awareness and improvement. Sen. Murray’s Children’s Trauma Recovery Act includes a reauthorization and updates to the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI), which works with children and families who are exposed to a wide range of traumatic experiences including physical and sexual abuse; domestic, school, and community violence; natural disasters, terrorism, or military family challenges; severe bereavement and loss; and life-threatening injury and illness.  

“As we have unfortunately witnessed too often in recent years, trauma involving children can happen at any time and in all parts of our country. The Children’s Trauma Recovery Act ensures the providers have the proper tools available to not only serve their day-to-day needs in treating child trauma, but also maintain absolute preparedness in the event of a national tragedy. Additionally, this bill supports the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative in its mission to raise the standard of care and increase access to evidence-based and trauma-informed practices in all child-serving systems.” said Senator Murray. “I applaud Chairman Harkin’s hard work in putting this comprehensive package together, so we can all work to ease the burden on our children and their families as they face very difficult times.”

NCTSI currently supports a national network of child trauma centers in forty-four states, including seventy-nine university, hospital, and community-based funded centers and ninety affiliate members. In addition to supporting everyday child trauma work, this network also mobilizes in response to national crises such as the shooting in Newtown, CT and Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. 
Specifically, the Children’s Recovery from Trauma Act authorizes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to:
·         Support a national collaborative network of child trauma centers, including: grants for university and hospital child trauma centers which are involved with intervention development and dissemination of evidence-based practices; grants for diverse community-based organizations which are involved with providing services to children and families affected by trauma; and a grant for the NCTSI coordinating center to organize the collaboration, training, and dissemination activities of all funded and Affiliate NCTSI members to maintain the NCTSI network and outreach infrastructure;
·         Support the analysis and reporting of the child outcome and other data collected by the NCTSI coordinating center to establish the effectiveness, implementation, and clinical utility of evidence-based treatment and services;
·         Support the continuum of interprofessional training initiatives in evidence-based and trauma-informed treatments, interventions, and practices offered to providers in all child-serving systems;
·         Support the collaboration of NCTSI, HHS, and other federal agencies in the dissemination of NCTSI evidence-based and trauma-informed interventions, treatments, products, and other resources to all child-serving systems and policymakers.

The following groups have endorsed the Children's Trauma Recovery Act of 2013: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Psychological Association, Futures Without Violence, National Children's Alliance, National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, Prevent Child Abuse America, Mental Health America, uFOSTERsuccess, American Art Therapy Association, American Association on Health and Disability, American Dance Therapy Association, American Group Psychotherapy Association, American Orthopsychiatric Association, American Psychiatric Association, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, School Social Work Association of America, and The Trevor Project.

Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

The e-mail address for this site is

iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq