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And the Budget Winner Is ... The Defense Sector

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"Whenever a fellow tells me he is bipartisan," said Harry Truman, "I know he is going to vote against me." The hosannas to bipartisanship accompanying the budget deal passed this week should have served as fair warning to the rest of us that we lost this vote. True, politicians and commentators vied to hail the sacrifices that had been made on both sides of the aisle for the greater cause of "restoring public faith in the budget process" and thereby bolster Congress' poll ratings.

In reality, there was one clear winner: the bipartisan defense lobby, a category that does not apparently include wounded veterans, who must give up some of their pensions for the sake of restoring that public faith, not to mention funding the extra $22 billion for defense that will flow inexorably into the pockets of Lockheed (stock already up 55% this year), Raytheon (up 54%), Northrop (up 64%) and their peers. With the hearty endorsement of both parties, they have emerged triumphant from the budget wars at the expense of old-fashioned special interests such as veterans, the poor, the unemployed, children (57,000 kicked off Head Start) and the aged.

Thus, while some sequestered nondefense cuts have theoretically been restored, federal employees get soaked for higher pension contributions, military veterans (including the wounded) lose part of their projected raises, airline passengers have to fork out higher taxes - a total of $26 billion. Including the "savings" from not extending unemployment benefits ($25 billion), the nondefense sector suffers a net loss of $20 billion.



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