(Editor’s Note: Now keep in mind, when black ops, intel and veterans services are added, the US is burning over a $1 trillion a year for the War Department. – Mark L. Taylor)
By Adam Johnson
Fairness & Accuracy in Media (9/21/17)
Where did all the concern over deficits go? After two years of the media lamenting, worrying and feigning outrage over the cost of Bernie Sanders’ two big-budget items—free college and single-payer healthcare—the same outlets are uniformly silent, days after the largest military budget increase in history.
Monday, the Senate voted to increase military spending by a whopping $81 billion, from $619 billion to $700 billion—an increase of over 13 percent. (The House passed its own $696 billion Pentagon budget in July—Politico, 7/14/17.) The reaction thus far to this unprecedented handout to military contractors and weapons makers has been one big yawn.
No write-ups worrying about the cost increase in the Washington Post or Vox or NPR. No op-eds expressing concern for “deficits” in the New York Times, Boston Globe or US News. No news segments on Fox News or CNN on the “unaffordable” increase in government spending. All the outlets that spent considerable column inches and airtime stressing over Sanders’ social programs are suddenly indifferent to “how we will afford” this latest military giveaway. The US government votes 89–9 to add $81 billion extra to the balance sheet—the equivalent of the government creating three new Justice Departments, four more NASAs, seven Treasury Departments, ten EPAs or 546 National Endowments for the the Arts—and there’s zero discussion as to “how we will pay for it.”
As FAIR has noted for decades (e.g., 2/23/11, 5/8/16), the media’s deficit discourse has always been a PR scam. A rhetorical bludgeon used to cry poverty any time a left-wing politician wants to help the poor or people of color that somehow is never an issue when it comes to pumping out F-22s and E3 AWACS, which evidently pay for themselves with magic.
The increase alone in military spending—over a budget that was already bigger than the next eight countries combined—is greater than the total amount spent annually on state university tuition by every student in the United States: $81 billion vs. $70 billion. This is to say that if the budget for the US military had just stayed the same for 2018, the US could have paid the tuition for every public college student this year, with $11 billion left over for board and books.
Where, one is compelled to ask, are those who dismissed Sanders’ free college plan (a mere $47 billion a year, because it only covered two-thirds the costs) as “unaffordable”? Where is Kevin James of US News who did so (3/27/15)? Vicki Alger of the Washington Examiner (2/8/16)? Where is Abby Jackson of Business Insider (6/20/16) or AEI’s Andrew Kelly hand-wringing in the New York Times(1/20/16) and NPR (1/17/16)? Where are David H. Feldman and Robert B. Archibald in the Washington Post (4/22/16)?
Where are the “detailed” Urban Institute or Brookings Institution studies showing a massive sticker-shock tax hike will be needed to pay for the Pentagon budget increase—the kind of studies that CNN can mindlessly repeat when they bring on DOD-boosters John McCain or Jack Reed?
Where are the Charles Lanes, Joe Scarboroughs, Wall Street Journal editorial boards and other “deficit hawks” in the media to condemn this? The answer is they’re nowhere. And they’re nowhere because no one in the media really cares about deficits, they only care about Deficits™, a clever marketing term used by those charged with keeping government money out of the hands of the poor—and in the coffers of weapons makers, banks and other wealthy interest groups.
(Commoner Call photo by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and free to use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
NY Times Lets Think Tank Funded By Gov’t & Arms Industry Claim Huge US Military Budget Isn’t Huge Enough
By Ben Norton
Fairness & Accuracy in Media (9/21/17)
The New York Times (9/18/17) gave an enormous platform to a hawkish think tank that is funded by the US government and by top weapons corporations, letting it absurdly claim, without any pushback, that the gargantuan US military—by far the largest in the world—has been “underfunded.”
On September 18, the Senate voted overwhelmingly (89 to eight) to pass an enormous, record-breaking $700 billion Pentagon bill, giving far-right President Donald Trump even more money for war than he had requested.
Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg effectively helped to sell the bill in an extremely sympathetic article, headlined “Senate Passes $700 Billion Pentagon Bill, More Money Than Trump Sought.”
The Times story noted the Senate bill “also includes a string of provisions to streamline the management of the Defense Department.” But the US newspaper of record failed to mention the Pentagon’s notorious inability to keep track of its bloated budget.
Stolberg’s story also doubled as a kind of puff piece for hyper-hawkish Sen. John McCain, whom it lionized as an intrepid hero boldly taking the lead on the Pentagon legislation.
The Times report all but openly applauded the bill, describing it as “a rare act of bipartisanship” that “sets forth a muscular vision of America as a global power.”
The nearly 700-word article quoted three people, only one of whom was not an elected official. Not a single person or organization that opposes the Defense Department budget expansion was cited in the story.
The lone non-official voice quoted by the Times was Anthony H. Cordesman (incorrectly identified as Anthony N. Cordesman), a national security analyst at the influential, bellicose think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
The Times gave no background information about Cordesman, failing to disclose that—as his CSIS bio clearly notes—he previously served as McCain’s national security assistant, and that he formerly worked for the Pentagon, the State Department and NATO. (He was even awarded the Pentagon’s distinguished service medal.)
Naturally, Cordesman used his space as a putatively independent expert in the US newspaper of record to claim that the Senate’s gigantic Pentagon bill was a response to years of supposed underfunding of the US military.
Cordesman’s notoriously pro-war employer CSIS, which in January boasted of being “named the world’s number one Defense and National Security think tank for the sixth year in a row,” also just so happens to be generously funded by the governments of the US and its military allies, along with leading corporations in the arms industry (Extra!, 10/16)—although the New York Times left that out of its report as well. …