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The Lame Duck War, Spending and Congress

May 25, 2008

Another blow has been dealt to the 3.1 trillion dollar budget that President Bush established earlier this year. Congress readily admits that this country cannot live on a budget. Congress is also making President Bush pay for his war that they no longer support while supporting it.

The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly approved 165 billion dollars to fund the war in Iraq. The Senate passed the war funding bill on a 70-26 vote and was combined with another bill for approval by the House of Representatives. The Senate tacked on billions of dollars in domestic spending including a large expansion for the educational benefits of veterans, a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits and home heating assistance subsidies.

Earlier, President Bush told Congress that he would veto any earmarks or additions to war funding. Half of the Senate’s 49 Republicans broke with Bush and embraced the bill.

What may be most surprising is not that the domestic funding bill won a majority of the Senate votes, but that half of the Senate’s 49 Republicans broke with Bush and embraced the bill. In exchange, Senators did not seek to mandate troop withdrawals or manage business in the Iraq War.

In the meantime, the national debt continues to rise while approaching 9.4 trillion dollars, the highest in U.S. history. The debt is growing by one million dollars a minute.

Beneath the national debt is another number that continually rachets higher. According to the Institute for Truth in Accounting, the true national debt figure is a cool $55,146,513,890,000.00.

This calculation of the national debt includes all the “off balance sheet” liabilities of the government, like commitments to pay benefits for Social Security and Medicare recipients far into the future, as well as military and civilian government workers’ pensions. The true liability of the U.S. is not only Treasury bills, notes and bonds sold to finance annual deficit and past deficits. The true liability of the government includes all the promises made to make payments in the future.

The global alliance of central banks have huge holdings of U.S. Treasury securities. In theory, the U.S. is the most stable country on the planet and remains the safest place to hold assets during a crisis. Central bankers earn interest on the Treasury securities they hold. Central banks continue to hold the national debt as the Federal Reserve pushes interest rates down to stimulate the economy.

Creating paper money and additional credit continues to trash the value of the dollar in a time when many Americans worry about their ability to survive the economic decline. The politicians that are running this country are punch drunk at best.

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