On the show this week, Chris Hedges discusses with the economist Richard Wolff the nearly $5 trillion being allocated by the Biden administration for Covid-19 relief and infrastructure projects.
Today, the Biden Administration released their budget proposal for Federal discretionary spending in Fiscal Year 2022. This included a proposal for a $753,000,000,000 Pentagon budget, an increase from President Trump’s final enacted budget. This signals a concerning continuity with the Trump Administration which, over the course of four years, increased the Pentagon budget by $133 billion with bipartisan Congressional approval. "Submitting a $753 billion Pentagon budget proposal during a historic pandemic while millions of working people across the country continue to struggle from the resulting economic turmoil is unconscionable," said CODEPINK national co-director and Divest from War campaign director Carley Towne.
Mainstream politicians have long insisted that Medicare for all, a universal basic income, student debt relief and a slew of other much-needed public programs are off the table because the federal government cannot afford them. But that was before Wall Street and the stock market were driven onto life-support by a virus. Congress has now suddenly discovered the magic money tree. It took only a few days for Congress to unanimously pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which will be doling out $2.2 trillion in crisis relief, most of it going to Corporate America with few strings attached. Beyond that, the Federal Reserve is making over $4 trillion available to banks, hedge funds and other financial entities of all stripes; it has dropped the fed funds rate (the rate at which banks borrow from each other) effectively to zero; and it has made $1.5 trillion available to the repo market.
Our national priorities have displayed much the same logic as the person who jumped off a 50-story building and observed, “This isn’t so bad,” as they hurtled past the 20th floor. But just like that fool, denial works for only so long. Then splat. For decades, our leaders have invested handsomely in death, spending the majority of our annual tax payments on armaments and empire, leaving humanity and the planet to fend for themselves. Now, in a real crisis, we’re freaking out. It’s not like there weren’t warnings, either. They even came in writing — on banners, picket signs, leaflets, newspapers, even a few on TV. The very best came on the wind, like this one from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
A recent report by the Koch Brothers-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University found that moving to a National Improved Medicare for All single payer healthcare system would increase federal spending. They analyzed Senator Sanders’ Medicare for All Act and estimated it would increase annual federal spending by $32 trillion over ten years. Don’t let their attempt to weaken the strong support for single payer healthcare in the US fool you. Even though their report underestimates the savings, they admit that single payer would lower the total cost of health care.