The U.S. is heading straight for a fiscal calamity in the next decade. Even if you believe the CBO’s Rosy Scenario projections – which assume that we will go 207 months thru 2026 without a recession or double the longest expansion on record and nearly 4X the normal cycle length – we will still end up with $28 trillion of national debt and a $1.3 trillion annual deficit (5% of GDP) by 2026.
from Zero Hedge:
Submitted by David Stockman via Contra Corner blog,
But that’s the optimistic case! As I demonstrated recently, if you get real about all the enormous headwinds down the road—-including the virtual certainty that the Red Ponzi will have a crashing landing and take the global economy down with it—- you end up with a truly dismal picture.
To wit, just assume economic performance during the next ten years is no better or worse than the average of the last ten years, including the last decade’s 2.5% growth rate of wage and salary income.
The result is that by the out-years CBO has over-estimated taxable income by more than 20% or $2 trillion per year; and that means, in turn, that CBOs current forecast is built on massive phantom revenues, given that under current law the payroll and income tax take from wages and salaries is just under 35%.
Accordingly, with sober economic assumptions and existing policy, the annual deficit is heading for $2-3 trillion per year by the middle of the next decade. This means the nation will accumulate incremental debt of $15 trillion or more in the interim, and that by 2026 the national debt will reach $34 trillion or 140% of GDP.
Those are Greek style fiscal ratios. And they would come at the very time that the 78 million strong baby-boom generation is at peak retirement levels.
Yet, not only does Hillary Clinton insist that social security benefits are sacrosanct and actually need to be increased, along with lowering the Medicare age to 50 years, she also insists that Washington remain the world’s policeman and imperial hegemon.
In a word, a Clinton presidency would mean Big Government on both sides of the Potomac – a combined Warfare State and Welfare State that would positively bankrupt the nation during the next decade.
The fact is, Washington is still spending upwards of $700 billion per year on defense, international security assistance, foreign aid and the rest of the surveillance state; and the total is more than $850 billion if you count the cost of supporting veterans from all the misbegotten wars and interventions going back to the 1950s.
More importantly, the iron law of Washington politics—-demonstrated in spades during the Reagan era——is that entitlements and other domestic programs will never be cut or reformed so long as massive funding is being sluiced into the military-industry-security complex. Its always pork barrel uber alles.
And that brings us to the deplorable Kagan clan—–Washington’s leading resident family of war-mongering neo-cons. The odds are that, if elected President, Hillary would likely choose one of them——her protégé during her stint in the Obama administration, Victoria Nuland—– as Secretary of State.
Yet that would be lights out for any hope of caging Washington’s imperial ambitions and reducing the massive and utterly unnecessary burden of current defense spending. The truth is, there are fewer greater menaces in the Imperial City today than Victoria Nuland.
Not only does she happen to be married to Bob Kagen, the leading neocon guru of global interventionism and regime change, but she earned her spurs as a key aid to Dick Cheney.
No matter. When the American public naively thought it elected the “peace” candidate in 2008, Nuland just changed her Jersey, joined Hillary’s team at State, and by 2013 was assistant secretary for European Affairs.
And that’s when Nuland’s rampage of everlasting shame began. She was the main architect of the coup in Kiev in February 2014 that overthrow the constitutionally elected government of the Ukraine, thereby commencing the whole sequence of confrontations with Russia and the full-throated demonization of Vladimir Putin that has followed.
Needless to say, overthrowing an elected government on Russia’s front doorstep had nothing to do with the safety and security of the American people. But it did rekindle ancient tensions between the nationalistic Ukrainians and neo-Nazis who seized power with Washington’s help and the Russian speaking populations in the Donbas and Crimea, who felt suddenly imperiled and turned to Moscow for protection.
Indeed, the Kiev uprising would never have happened without huge amounts of covert aid and instigation from Washington. Nuland’s appearance at the Maidan Square demonstrations amounted to what would be an unthinkable violation of sovereignty anywhere else in the world. Accordingly, the coup was a straight out imperial grab designed to bring the Ukraine into NATO and to extend Washington’s hegemony to the entirely of the old Warsaw bloc geography.
Hillary’s favorite candidate for Secretary of State, therefore, almost single-handedly restarted the cold war and pulled the US and Europe into what has become a dragnet of costly economic sanctions that are completely pointless and unnecessary.
And Hillary Clinton has been onboard for this misbegotten campaign from the get-go. At one point she actually likened Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.
C’mon. The man’s a monumental crook and no model citizen of the world, but he is no threat to American security whatsoever.
He presides over a third rate economy no larger than the GDP of the New York SMSA that essentially consists of a complex of petroleum fields, grain farms and metal mines and a lethargic work force with a fondness for Vodka.
At the time the constitutionally elected government of Ukraine was being overthrown by Victoria Nuland’s mob of economically deprived citizens, disgruntled nationalists and crypto-Nazi agitators in February 2014, Putin was basking in the glory of the Sochi Olympics. And before that he had spent his time having petty quarrels with the crook who took-over the tiny state of Georgia after the Soviet Union disappeared and similar no-count machinations along his historic borders.
The world disdained his oafish character, but no one claimed that he was fixing to invade Europe. There was not a shred of evidence for it.
At the same time, any one who knew the slightest thing about Ukraine’s history and its long co-existence in the shadow of Mother Russia understood that bringing it into NATO was a decidedly stupid idea; that for 200 years Crimea had been a integral part of Russia that was only “gifted” to Ukraine by Kruschev during his post-Stalin consolidation of power in the Kremlin; and that now threatening Russia’s rented naval homeport in Sevastopol, Crimea was sheer folly.
Not Hillary. She was soon figuratively at the barricades right alongside Nuland justifying the folly of the NATO confrontation with Russia and the self-defeating economic sanctions against Putin.
Even though she was out of office and in a position to recognize that the very same “partition” solution that had led to the severance of Kosovo from Serbia during the 1990s could have solved the Donbas and Crimea issues, she was having none of it.
Instead, by her lights NATO, which should have been disbanded after 1991, needs to go to the brink with Putin over essentially a Ukrainian civil war.
It is no wonder, therefore, that Imperial Washington is lining up behind Hillary, and that the deplorable Kagan Clan is fixing to retain its insidious influence for another Presidential term.
The fact is, Hillary Clinton has spent a lifetime serving the Warfare state and absorbing its pretensions and ideologies. She allegedly protested the Vietnam War before becoming a Republican summer intern in 1967, but to my knowledge that was the last war she didn’t embrace.
She was an enthusiastic backer of Bill Clinton’s feckless military interventions in the Balkans during the 1990s and a signed-up hawk for George Bush’s catastrophic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As Donald Trump rightly says, her time as Secretary of State was an unmitigated disaster. The “peace candidate” actually won the 2008 election, but Secretary Clinton along with lifetime CIA operative and unabashed war-monger, Robert Gates, saw to it that peace never got a chance.
From the pointless, bloody “surge” in Afghanistan to the destructive intervention in Libya to the arming and aiding of jihadist radicals in Syria, Hillary has proved herself to be a shrill harpy of military mayhem. Indeed, she brought a fillip to the neocon playbook that has made Imperial Washington even more trigger happy.
To wit, Clinton has been a tireless proponent of the insidious doctrine of R2P or “responsibility to protect”. No one in their right mind could have concluded that the aging, pacified, tent-bound Moammar Khadafy was a threat to the safety and security of the American people. Even the community organizer from South Chicago wanted to keep the American bombers parked on their runways.
But Hillary’s infamous emails leave no doubt that it was she who induced Obama to embrace the folly that quickly created yet another failed state, hotbed of jihadism and barbaric hellhole in the middle east. Indeed, her hands are doubly bloody.
When Hillary bragged that “We came, we saw, he died”, it turns out that not just Khadafy but thousands of innocents have died, and not just from the chaos unleashed in Libya itself. The former dictator’s arsenals and mercenaries have now been dispersed all over North Africa and the middle east, spreading desolation in their wake.
But a Hillary Clinton presidency would only guarantee more of the same. And as the attached excellent piece from Phil Giraldi at the American Conservative explains, it would also keep the nation’s leading clan of warmongers firmly ensconced in the corridors of power.
The other day, a question popped up on a Facebook thread I was commenting on: “Where is Victoria Nuland?” The short answer, of course, is that she is still holding down her position as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.
But a related question begs for a more expansive response: Where will Victoria Nuland be after January? Nuland is one of Hillary Clinton’s protégés at the State Department, and she is also greatly admired by hardline Republicans. This suggests she would be easily approved by Congress as secretary of state or maybe even national-security adviser—which in turn suggests that her foreign-policy views deserve a closer look.
Nuland comes from what might be called the First Family of Military Interventionists. Her husband, Robert Kagan, is a leading neoconservative who co-founded the Project for the New American Century in 1998 around a demand for “regime change” in Iraq. He is currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, an author, and a regular contributor to the op-ed pages of a number of national newspapers. He has already declared that he will be voting for Hillary Clinton in November, a shift away from the GOP that many have seen as a clever career-enhancing move for both him and his wife.
Robert’s brother, Fred, is with the hawkish American Enterprise Institute, and his sister-in-law, Kimberly, is the head of the Institute for the Study of War, which is largely funded by defense contractors. The Kagans work to encourage military action, both through their positions in government and by influencing the public debate through think-tank reports and op-eds. It is a family enterprise that mirrors the military-industrial complex as a whole, with think tanks coming up with reasons to increase military spending and providing “expert” support for the government officials who actually promote and implement the policies. Defense contractors, meanwhile, benefit from the largesse and kick back some money to the think tanks, which then develop new reasons to spend still more on military procurement.
The Kagans’ underlying belief is that the United States has both the power and the obligation to replace governments that are considered either uncooperative with Washington (the “Leader of the Free World”) or hostile to American interests. American interests are, of course, mutable, and they include values like democracy and the rule of law as well as practical considerations such as economic and political competition. Given the elasticity of the interests, many countries can be and are considered potential targets for Washington’s tender ministrations.
For what it’s worth, President Obama is reportedly an admirer of Robert Kagan’s books, which argue that the U.S. must maintain its military power to accommodate its “global responsibilities.” The persistence of neoconservative foreign-policy views in the Obama administration has often been remarked upon, though Democrats and Republicans embrace military interventionism for different reasons. The GOP sees it as an international leadership imperative driven by American “exceptionalism,” while the Dems romanticize “liberal intervention” as a sometimes-necessary evil undertaken most often for humanitarian reasons. But the result is the same, as no administration wants to be seen as weak when dealing with the outside world. George W. Bush’s catastrophic failures in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to bear fruit under a Democratic administration, while Obama has added a string of additional “boots on the ground” interventions in Libya, Syria, Yemen, the Philippines, and Somalia.
And Nuland herself, many will recall, was the driving force behind efforts to destabilize the Ukrainian government of President Viktor Yanukovych in 2013-14.Yanukovych, admittedly a corrupt autocrat, nevertheless assumed office after a free election. In spite of the fact that Washington and Kiev ostensibly had friendly relations, Nuland provided open support for the Maidan Square demonstrators opposed to Yanukovych’s government, passing out cookies to protesters on the square and holding photo ops with a beaming Sen. John McCain.
Nuland started her rapid rise as an adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. Subsequently, she was serially promoted by secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, attaining her current position in September 2013. But it was her behavior in Ukraine that made her a media figure. It is hard to imagine that any U.S. administration would tolerate a similar attempt by a foreign nation to interfere in domestic politics, particularly if it were backed by a $5 billion budget, but Washington has long adhered to a double standard when evaluating its own behavior.
Nuland is most famous for using foul language when referring to the potential European role in managing the unrest in Ukraine that she and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) had helped create. She even discussed with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who the new leader of Ukraine ought to be. “Yats is the guy” she said (referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk), while pondering how she would “glue this thing” as Pyatt simultaneously considered how to “midwife” it. Their insecure phone call was intercepted and leaked, possibly by the Russian intelligence service, though anyone equipped with a scanner could have done the job.
The inevitable replacement of the government in Kiev, actually a coup but sold to the media as a triumph for “democracy,” was only the prelude to a sharp break—and escalating conflict—with Moscow over Russia’s attempts to protect its own interests in Ukraine. The new regime in Kiev, as corrupt as its predecessor and supported by neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists, was consistently whitewashed in the Western media, and the conflict was depicted as “pro-democracy” forces resisting unprovoked “Russian aggression.”
Indeed, the real objective of interfering in Ukraine was, right from the start, to install a regime hostile to Moscow. Carl Gershman, the head of the taxpayer-funded NED, called Ukraine “the biggest prize” in the effort to topple Russian President Vladimir Putin, who “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” But Gershman and Nuland were playing with fire in their assessment, as Russia had vital interests at stake and is the only nation with the military capability to destroy the U.S.
And make no mistake about Nuland’s clear intention to expand the conflict and directly confront Moscow. In Senate testimony in May of 2014, she noted how the Obama administration was “providing support to other frontline states like Moldova and Georgia.”
Nuland and her neoconservative allies celebrated their “regime change” in Kiev oblivious to the fact that Putin would recognize the strategic threat to his own country and would react, particularly to protect the historic Russian naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea. Barack Obama responded predictably, initiating what soon became something like a new Cold War against Russia, risking escalation into a possible nuclear confrontation. It was a crisis that would not have existed but for Nuland and her allies.
Though there was no evidence that Putin had initiated the Ukraine crisis and much evidence to the contrary, the U.S. government propaganda machine rolled into action, claiming that Russia’s measures in Ukraine would be the first step in an invasion of Eastern Europe. Former Secretary of State Clinton dutifully compared Putin to Adolf Hitler. And Robert Kagan provided the argument for more intervention, producing a lengthy essay in The New Republic entitled “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire,” in which he criticized President Obama for failing to maintain American dominance in the world. The New York Times revealed that the essay was apparently part of a joint project in which Nuland regularly edited her husband’s articles, even though this particular piece attacked the administration she worked for.
As the situation in Ukraine continued to deteriorate in 2014, Nuland exerted herself to scuttle several European attempts to arrange a ceasefire. When NATO Commander Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove was cited as being in favor of sending more weapons to the Ukrainian government to “raise the battlefield cost for Putin,” Nuland commented, “I’d strongly urge you to use the phrase ‘defensive systems’ that we would deliver to oppose Putin’s ‘offensive systems.’”
To return to the initial question of where Victoria Nuland is, the long answer would be that while she is not much in the news, she is continuing to provide support for policies that the White House apparently approves of. Late last month, she was again in Kiev. She criticized Russia for its lack of press freedom and its “puppets” in the Donbas region while telling a Ukrainian audience about a “strong U.S. commitment to stand with Ukraine as it stays on the path of a clean, democratic, European future. … We remain committed to retaining sanctions that apply to the situation in Crimea until Crimea is returned to Ukraine.” Before that, she was in Cyprus and France discussing “a range of regional and global issues with senior government officials.”
But one has to suspect that, at this point, she is mainly waiting to see what happens in November. And wondering where she might be going in January.