Sunday, July 19, 2009

Money for Nothing

Listening to Obama argue that potential health care savings will pay the cost of his proposed reform raises a red flag for me. The red flag is that proposed savings are not real money. You can count it but it may not be there. Savings that actually accrue are very likely to be less than promised. To my way of thinking, any reform that is likely to have any chance of working should not rely on hoped-for best scenarios. Real cash is far more likely to create real results. Anything else is fiscal legerdemain.

That's why I am disappointed that NO ONE is looking at America's national security budget. The Governement Accoutability Office this week that the US spent $888 billion on "overseas contingency operations" (read: Iraq and Afghanistan) since 2001. Projected to ten years that's $1.1 trillion, 69% of the projected cost of the most expensive of the proposed health care reforms.

The $888 billion is operating money, what keeps the wars going. If, like me, you think that America's wars actually harm this nation, then it's money that is doing absolutely no good and should as a matter of common sense, be redirected toward more critical needs like health care financing.

Keep in mind, the US will still retain the world's most powerful and capable military and a total national security budget that dwarfs all others. Redirecting the contingency money does not compromise the strength of American Armed Forces one iota. That is an entirely different budget.

Of course, Obama won't be stopping the contingent wars anytime soon so none of this will happen. He is a cautious president, not one to take on the health care industry and the military-industrial complex at one time.