The inherent contradictions of running an Empire we can no longer afford surfaced again recently. It is a matter of priorities. Inside the Beltway, extending Imperial policies is the most important thing. Serving the people of the United States is secondary. The Empire is broke, and must borrow or print money to demonstrate that American Might Is Right. The Show Must Go On! Thus our Imperial Leaders are confronted with some rather stark choices. They are now forced to choose between the Empire and the People. You already know who will win that battle—
May 27, 2010 WASHINGTON — The Senate easily passed an almost $60 billion war funding bill Thursday, but anxiety over out-of-control budget deficits led House leaders to drop tens of billions of dollars in spending from a separate catchall bill anchored by an extension of jobless benefits.
Confronted with a rebellion by Democratic moderates, House leaders planned to dump overboard $24 billion in aid to states and allow generous health insurance subsidies for laid-off workers to expire. The changes were an effort to round up votes to extend unemployment benefits and renew more than 50 popular tax breaks that expired last year.
For the Senate, paying for Afghanistan was a no-brainer.
Across the Capitol, Senate Democrats had ... success in advancing the war funding bill, which would pay for President Barack Obama's 30,000 troop increase in Afghanistan.
A dozen Republicans, including GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, joined Democrats in a 67-28 vote to pass the bill. Two anti-war Democrats, Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, opposed it...
Thousands of people are set to begin losing jobless benefits when an extension of unemployment insurance expires next week. A 65 percent subsidy for health insurance benefits for the unemployed under the COBRA program also expires.
When it comes to the long-term unemployed and the states, Congress has now decided that fiscal austerity and deficits exceeding one trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) annually are the most important factors affecting spending decisions.
Having counted on Washington for money that may not be delivered, at least 30 states will have to close larger-than-anticipated shortfalls in the coming fiscal year unless Congress passes a six-month extension of increased federal spending on Medicaid.
Governors and state lawmakers, already facing some of the toughest budgets since The Great Depression, said the repercussions would extend far beyond health care, forcing them to make deep cuts to education, social services and public safety...
Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, for instance, penciled $850 million in federal Medicaid assistance into the revenue side of his state’s ledger, reducing its projected shortfall to $1.2 billion. The only way to compensate for the loss, he said in an interview, would be to lay off at least 20,000 government workers, including teachers and police officers, at a time when the state is starting to add jobs.
“It would actually kill everything the stimulus has done,” said Mr. Rendell, a Democrat. “It would be enormously destructive.”
The Medicaid provision, which would extend assistance first granted in last year’s stimulus package, was considered such a sure bet by many governors and legislative leaders that they prematurely included the money in their budgeting. But under pressure from conservative Democrats to rein in deficit spending, House leaders in late May eliminated $24 billion in aid to states from a tax and jobs bill that was approved and forwarded to the Senate.
The Senate is now considering the $24 billion cut in aid to the states, including the extension of health care (COBRA) benefits to the long-term unemployed. There is no shortage of people unemployed for longer than 26 weeks—
Source: Calculated Risk
Is the American Empire broke? You betcha. Is that a bad thing? Definitely. If you're going to spend money, you need to get your priorities right. I would mandate & pay for an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan. I would approve benefit extensions for the unemployed. But, hey! — that's just me (and 75% of all Americans).
In our Nation's Capital, the priorities are not the same as mine. America's fight against Islamic militancy, or the War on Terror, or whatever the fuck it is, that's what counts. The PBS Newshour tells me so every night. They broadcast from—you guessed it!—Washington, D.C.
So there you have it—Your Congress At Work. Despicable, isn't it?