Magazine article The American Conservative

An Empire We Can't Afford

Magazine article The American Conservative

An Empire We Can't Afford

Article excerpt

"LIQUIDATE LABOR, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers." So Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon advised Herbert

Hoover in the Great Crash of '29. Hoover did. And the nation liquidated him--and the Republicans.

In the crash of 2008, 40 percent of stock value has vanished, almost $9 trillion. Some $5 trillion in real estate value has disappeared. A recession looms with sweeping layoffs, unemployment compensation surging, and social-welfare benefits soaring. America's first trillion-dollar deficit is at hand. In fiscal Year 2008, the deficit was $438 billion.

With tax revenue sinking, we will add to this year's deficit the $200 to $300 billion needed to wipe the rotten paper off the books of Fannie and Freddie, the $700 billion (plus the $100 billion in add-ons and pork) for the Wall Street bailout, the $85 billion to bail out AIG, and $37 billion more now needed, the $25 billion for GM, Chrysler, and Ford, and the hundreds of billions Hank Paulson will need to buy corporate paper and bail out banks to stop the panic.

As Americans save nothing, where are the feds going to get the money? Is the Fed going to print it and destroy the dollar and credit rating of the United States? The nations whose vaults are full of dollars and U.S. debt--China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Arabs--are reluctant to lend us more. Sovereign wealth funds that plunged billions into U.S. banks have already been burned.

Uncle Sam's Visa card is about to be stamped "Canceled." The budget is going to have to go under the knife. But what gets cut?

Social Security and Medicare are surely exempt. Seniors have already taken a huge hit in their 401(k)'s. And as the Democrats are crafting another $150 billion stimulus package for the working poor and middle class, Medicaid and food stamps are untouchable. Interest on the debt cannot be cut. It is going up. Will a Democratic Congress slash unemployment benefits, welfare, education, student loans, and veterans' benefits--in a recession?

No way. Yet that is almost the entire U.S. budget--except for defense, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and foreign aid. And this is where the axe will eventually fall.

It is the American Empire that is going to be liquidated. Retrenchment has begun with Bush's backing away from confrontations with Axis of Evil charter members Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programs and will likely continue with a negotiated peace in Afghanistan. …

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