There’s a lot of talk and squawk going on about what’s wrong with the infamous debt ceiling “deal” that has left everyone, um, less than satisfied. I particularly like the analysis by journalist Matt Taibbi, the Rolling Stone reporter who has dug deeper into the causes for the nation’s economic mess than nearly any other U.S. media scribe. Read his latest blog post about the deal, which I found to be sadly on-the-money. What has this writer worried today, however, isn’t the post-deal talking, but the words that led to some seriously mistaken assumptions that were the foundation of the way spending was cut. Put more simply, it’s a gross error, not to say stupid, dishonest and destructive, to claim that America’s paltry social safety net is a big part of the debt problem that simply must be cut.
There are three huge reasons for the increase in public debt during the past decade: the Bush tax cuts, the Great Recession, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. See the chart at the end of this post to see just how much of the debt is caused by those three things. It would be logical, therefore — in other words, it probably won’t happen — to repeal the Bush tax cuts, which at this point are set to expire at the end of 2012; and to get our troops the hell out of the sandy hellholes they’re in now. Frankly, while we’re at it, I’d like to see us start dismantling some of the hundreds of military bases we keep around the world to contain an enemy that collapsed over 20 years ago, but good luck ever seeing that happen before our empire crumbles. Ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would at least mean that the U.S. economy wouldn’t continue bleeding three billion bucks per week, and would but a big dent in the public debt.