Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Way To Save Some Money

I received a response from Sen. Dianne Feinstein to my email urging her to support a public option in the health care debate. Here's her bottom line:

"I believe that there is much room for improvement in our nation's healthcare system. However, I believe that health care reform should not increase the federal deficit."

I take that to mean that she'll dismiss the public option, as in, "Not in my lifetime, sweetie, nor in yours either."

I find the Senate's sudden preoccupation with the federal deficit rather odd. Back in 2001, most senators (including many Democrats) had no trouble voting for tax cuts for the wealthy, tax cuts which were recently extended. And after we got our two wars going, most were quite happy to fund those wars "off budget" in emergency resolutions, the latest of which was for another $80 billion. They were also willing to bail out corporations and banks which had failed through a combination of greed, deception, and a whole lot of incompetence with huge amounts of taxpayer dollars.

Still, if Congress has decided to get religion with respect to the deficit, I've got an idea, one stolen from Chalmers Johnson (of Blowback fame) who presented it in an essay in the Asia Times Online: close some of our unnecessary military bases abroad.

And what is being done about those military bases, which now number close to 800 across the globe in other people's countries? Even as Congress and the Obama administration wrangle over the cost of bank bailouts, a new health plan, pollution controls, and other much needed domestic expenditures, no one suggests that closing some of these unpopular, expensive imperial enclaves might be a good way to save some money.

On June 23, Kyrgyzstan, the former Central Asian Soviet Republic which, back in February 2009, announced that it was going to kick the US military out of Manas Air Base (used since 2001 as a staging area for the Afghan War), said it has been persuaded to let the US stay.

But here's the catch: In return for doing that favor, the annual rent Washington pays for use of the base will more than triple from $17.4 million to $60 million, with millions more to go into promised improvements in airport facilities and other financial sweeteners. All this because the Obama administration, having committed itself to a widening war in the region, is convinced it needs this base to store and trans-ship supplies to Afghanistan.

I suspect this development will not go unnoticed in other countries where Americans are also unpopular occupiers. For example, the Ecuadorians have told the US to leave Manta Air Base by this November. Of course, they have their pride to consider, not to speak of the fact that they don't like American soldiers mucking about in Colombia and Peru. Nonetheless, they could probably use a spot more money. ...

In fact, I have a suggestion for other countries that are getting a bit weary of the American military presence on their soil: cash in now, before it's too late. Either up the ante or tell the Americans to go home. I encourage this behavior because I'm convinced that the US empire of bases will soon enough bankrupt our country, and so - on the analogy of a financial bubble or a pyramid scheme - if you're an investor, it's better to get your money out while you still can.
[Emphasis added]

Snark aside, Mr. Johnson has the right idea. Why do we have 800 military bases strung out around the world. The cold war is over. We're now so closely tied to China financially that they'd be foolish to start anything lest their huge investment in our country go sour. Surely Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia could survive without our "imperial enclaves" there to "protect" them from the evils of communism, an ideology which looks to be in worse shape than our capitalism, although that is, I admit, debatable.

Closing even half of those bases would save billions of dollars each year, maybe as much as a trillion over ten years, and isn't that the magic number that keeps being shoved down our throats whenever we ask for something as necessary as a single payer system?

I guess the health and welfare of Americans isn't as important to the 111th Congress as the health and welfare of the Pentagon and its contractors. Not much of a change there, eh?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure you know it, Diane, but for newcomers here it's worth pointing out that Feinstein's husband is Richard Blum. Blum's company, Perini, is making a fortune on military contracts.

See the Center for Public Integrity's "Windfalls of War" for the details.

6:15 AM  
Anonymous jacksmith said...


It’s official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.


We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

Progressive democrats the Tri-Caucus and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust government-run public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and request that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don’t even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

If President Obama has to declare a NATIONAL STATE OF EMERGENCY to rescue the American people from our healthcare crisis, he will need all the sustained support you can give him. STICK WITH HIM! He’s doing a brilliant job.



Join the fight.

Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

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God Bless You


4:49 PM  

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