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US National Debt Still on the Rise

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TEHRAN, June 2 (ICANA) – The United States' debt is ominously growing while there appears to be a general lack of control in regard to US fiscal matters as further budgetary cutbacks continue.
Thursday, June 02, 2011 11:20:24 PM
US National Debt Still on the Rise

The following is a transcript of a Press TV interview conducted with Richard Becker, the western regional coordinator of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, regarding the United States' growing national debt.

Q: I would like to get your idea, Richard Becker. You have about four wars, maybe five, we are looking at. Let's look at Afghanistan; at one point 1.5 trillion dollars yearly to maintain it, of course 411 bases there, you have wars in Iraq and Libya; they just extended that until the end of September while you have possible additional, increased involvement.

I mean how is it that the US can maintain these huge costs and the effect that their having, and of course regarding the debt that they keep accumulating?

Becker: Well, of course they cannot, and that is what is bankrupting the country is militarism. And, you know, if we just take the war in Afghanistan by itself, the Department of Defense officially spends around 310 million dollars per day just on Afghanistan, and if you take into account the real cost of militarism this year, now next year's budget, the figure for the Department of Defense is 741 billion. But that leaves out the interest payment on debt from previous wars, which adds up to another 300 billion according to the Congressional Budget Office; it leaves out veteran's benefits, the cost of the CIA, the National Security Agency.

So, when you really put together the budget for the security services, the military and military related, it really comes to about 1.37 trillion dollars. And a trillion, of course, is a million, million dollars; we are talking about immense amounts of money.

And, since world war II, in current dollars, the United States has spent somewhere in the neighborhood of three times what is the current national debt, of 14 trillion dollars.

Q: How do you explain the legislation that is being passed that gives a blank check for the US to basically go and have endless wars, whatever they want to, wage war anywhere in the world?

Becker: Well, here we have Congress with very, very few exceptions. The Congressional leaders and members of Congress will vote for these budgets year after year, after year; and they are not only funding those wars; why are there US military bases all over Japan 66 years after the end of world war II, all over Germany, what are they doing there?

Why are there 740 official US military bases and up to 300 secret bases in more than 100 countries around the world, and this is what is causing: it is really a fundamental root cause of the financial crisis today. But neither the Republicans nor the Democrats will talk about militarism as this fundamental cause of the financial and economic crisis that the United States is in.

Q: Tell us what it is that is going to push people to the top; we have seen what happened in Wisconsin, and of course we can refer to what has occurred in some other countries, we have seen what has happened in Arab countries, and Spain now.

Of course, we're looking at the Eurozone, where some of the countries are teetering, and of course Greece, but in the United States it is going to be a factor, if it is not already, in terms of the people pulling out into the streets. Tell us the consequences that you foresee for the United States and for the Americans.

Becker: Well, because of the spending that is going-on, both the military spending and the cutbacks, this is really posing the danger of a far deeper economic downturn than we have seen so far.

The United States has all kinds of crying needs: for infrastructure, for better schools, for more health care, for more teachers, for more doctors, nurses, etc. But that is not where the money is going, and much of that must come from government funding.

Instead, that money is going into militarism, it has gone into huge tax cuts, and so forth; and the cutbacks that are taking place in virtually every level of government, federal, state, county, municipalities; this means greater layoffs, more and more hundreds of thousands of public workers being laid-off, in addition to the millions of people who have been unable to find work. Many people I know personally, who are very skilled people, cannot find jobs for long periods of time, perhaps indefinitely.

And we believe that this will lead inevitably, we do not know when, but there will be rebellion against this, as there have been in the other countries that you have mentioned.

Q: I am looking down this list of the billions of the spending that the United States has. I am looking at this arms reduction treaty with Russia, 80 billion dollars came out of that even though it was to reduce nuclear weapons for funding.

We are looking at abandoned programs and corruption in the United States which amount to waste; abandoned government-sponsored programs came-out to about 32 billion dollars.

I am looking at the corruption survey, in which Iraq and Afghanistan came with billions unaccounted for. I mean where is the accountability when it comes to things of this nature, when we're looking at where they've pushed themselves, which appears at a corner, with raising the debt-ceiling and then saying, "Well, we don't know if we'll be able to pay the interest on it come July or August"?

Becker: Well, you know it is very interesting. If you look at the last four years, since the onset of the financial crisis, one conclusion we can draw from what we have seen is that while the government in the United States rules over the people, the corporations, the biggest corporations and banks, rule over the government; the government does what they tell them to do.

It is amazing that there are virtually no indictments of top officials of these corporations and banks from the wild excesses of gambling, really, with the country's economy and the world economy and violating all kinds of laws; but none of them are prosecuted.

The corruption at the top is endemic and it goes unpunished for exactly the reason I started with; that is the corporations and the banks do not answer to the government, the government answers to them.

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