Oct 20, 2011

Get Serious About Debt Reduction

By Margarita Mercure Hibbs

Everyone agrees that budget cuts are necessary.  Everyone is asked to participate in a shared sacrifice.  Statements like Speaker Boehner’s “So be it!” hit hard and appear to be delivered with indifference to the actual pain of the people that will be impacted by Congress’ $61 Billion decision.  The problem is that these cuts represent less than 2 percent of the deficit. They will not even come close to balancing the budget.  America's debt is $1.65 Trillion Dollars!  This is not serious deficit reduction. This is political posturing.

The Military and Defense Industry budget is never under scrutiny.   There is constant pork barrel for manufacturing plants devoted to military things that were long ago obsolete.  B-2 Bombers and Sea to Land amphibious transports are still being manufactured without regard for necessity or cost, as just two examples.  The industry is not asked to retool and reinvent their plants or products for state of the art improvements or alternative energy components or technologies.  Ironic isn’t it that the Torrance County government budget is managing financially better since the tax revenue from the alternative energy Wind Plant in the south?

The Auto Industry was asked to become more energy efficient when it went seeking Government Loans.  These loans have since been paid off with interest to the American taxpayer, and subsequently saved the industry and most of the jobs.  GM is now recalling the 2000 employees that were let go, back to work.  This is sustainability and innovation in practice.  Why shouldn’t we expect the same from our Military Industry? I am not saying that these jobs should be eliminated.  I am asking the following question. Would it not be better to support their transition to creating and building components that ensure our independence from foreign oil and bring our men, women and resources home?

Now the GOP tells us that cutting Department of Justice Funding is necessary.  This is particularly interesting from a party that has told us that they are “tough on crime”.  According to Conservative politicians and spokespeople like, Tom Tancredo, Jan Brewer and Susana Martinez, Border States like New Mexico are under attack from the rampant and unchecked drug cartels from the south. Having raised two boys who were abandoned by drug addicted mothers; I can assure you that I understand the problems and challenges created by drug-infested communities, first hand.

Every mayor, county commissioner, judge, police chief and sheriff in rural America should be very worried about their Enforcement Department funding.  In particular, the manner in which our rural areas are going to be inundated with said drug trafficking should be of major concern.  For Torrance County, this has long been a problem.  Drugs permeate our schools, businesses and medical and emergency health communities.

We know that when it comes to begging for money, rural communities are low on the totem pole in comparison to cities that have the funding to pay professional lobbyists to beg on their behalf.  The cities get the lion share of the funding. Inevitably, crime will continue to move out to the country where there is less law enforcement in vast geographic territories like Torrance County.

Here are the proposed cuts according to the House Appropriations Committee. Most of these cuts are in the Department of Justice programs, where funding for the states comes. The bill will also include the elimination of the COPS hiring program altogether.

ONDCP - $69 million
BJA Programs - $256 million, from a baseline of $1.48 billion
OJJDP Programs - $2.3 million
Drug Intelligence Center - $11 million
Law Enforcement Wireless Communications - $52 million
US Marshals Service - $10 million
FBI - $74 million
State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance - $256 million
Juvenile Justice - $2.3 million
COPS - $600 million.

We know if we follow the money and dissect the language, their agenda is revealed.  This agenda no longer rests on our interests, but instead benefits attorneys, administrators, insurance industry executives and corporations that care little about us.  God help the taxpayer that is not wealthy and connected.  That now means 98% of us.

We have a Wall Street and Banking industry that has been found culpable for the economic duress that our country is in and not one of these criminals has been indicted.  We taxpayers know that they will skate.  Apparently, white-collar crime is above the law and is now completely politicized.  As we file our taxes, we are told that we should be okay with the many corporations that do not pay one dime in corporate taxes to our country because of instruments like NAFTA and various tax cuts for the extremely wealthy given by the GOP controlled Congress during the Bush Administration.

The premise is if they get to keep more of their money, they create jobs.  The fact is that over the last 12 years they have not created many jobs here in America.  The response of course is “Margarita, it’s legal. So what?”  Yes, it is legal, but is it moral and patriotic that during the worst recession of our time, and the fact that we are at war on three fronts, that small communities and poor people continue to shoulder so much of the burden of this philosophy?  This is not acceptable!  This is not “Shared Sacrifice”.