News Release

Occupations and Public vs Congress and Super Committee?


Today, the “Super Committee” will hold its first open public hearing in more than a month. Congressional Budget Office head Doug Elmendorf will testify. The CBO just released a study finding that the top 1 percent of earners more than doubled their share of the nation’s income over the last three decades.

THOMAS FERGUSON, thomas.ferguson at,
Ferguson is professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and a senior fellow of the Roosevelt Institute. He said today: “Look at Occupy Wall Street and almost any poll you pick up: Most Americans don’t want Social Security and Medicare to be cut. They also want taxes raised on the wealthy. The question is whether the Super Committee and the Congressional leadership are getting the message. The Committee’s report is due the day before Thanksgiving. It’s a toss up which will be the bigger turkey day.” Ferguson just wrote the piece “Posted Prices and the Capitol Hill Stalemate Machine”.

Swanson is with the group RootsAction and has been involved in the Freedom Plaza occupation in Washington, D.C. Some from that occupation have protested at recent congressional hearings. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie.

He said today: “Super Congress Member John Kerry’s home state is fifth in the nation in military spending, employing lots of registered voters building machines of death for Raytheon, whose former head was brought in by the Obama administration as Deputy Secretary of Defense and who told the Washington Times in June, ‘The wars of the future will be longer, deadlier and waged against a more diverse variety of enemies than ever before.’

“Super Congress co-chair Patty Murray, Democrat from Boeing, since 2007 has taken $276,000 from war industries, Max Baucus $139,000, Dave Camp $130,000, John Kerry $73,000, and so on. The President who must sign or veto whatever comes out of the Super Congress and the Less Than Super Congress took over $1 million from war industries just in the 2008 election, not to mention $39 million from finance, insurance, and real estate. Targeting our social safety net is a goal that Wall Street and the military industrial complex have shared for many years. And of course the general corporate exploitation of foreign resources and workers depends on the threat of military force. Military spending has increased at the President’s request each year since 2008 as well as since 2001.

“Thanks to Occupy Wall Street, a conversation has been launched about the damage the wealthiest one percent is doing to the rest of us. California just pulled out of a mortgage fraud settlement deal that is expected to let the crooks off easy. Who’s to say Occupy Wall Street didn’t influence that decision?

“The Super Congressional crusade to slash spending can only be carried through without causing massive misery and death in one of two ways, neither of which the U.S. Congress or President wants to touch, but both of which are central demands of the Occupation movement. The first is to significantly raise taxes on the super wealthy. The second is to significantly cut spending on the military. A progressive demand right now is not ‘Jobs Not Cuts’ but ‘Jobs Not Wars.’

“Seventy members of Congress have pointed out that ending the two biggest current wars in fiscal year 2012 would save $1.8 trillion over the following decade, above planned savings from promised reductions in troops. But war spending is pocket change in comparison with the overall military and security budget.

“Leon Panetta, who holds the position that we used to more usefully call ‘Secretary of War,’ considers $350 billion over 10 years, or $35 billion per year, to be serious cuts to the national security budget. But he’s discussing cuts to dreamed-of future budgets. The current budget would still increase under those so-called cuts. But imagine really taking $35 billion from a budget of well over a trillion. (According to Chris Hellman of National Priorities Project, the security budget is $1.2 trillion, including the spy agencies and various other departments.) That would be a cut of less than 3.5 percent.

“China spends about $114 billion per year on its military. Let’s generously assume there are enough hidden costs in China’s budget to double it to $228 billion. And let’s assume that we must spend twice as much as they do, because … well, just because. Now we’re at $456 billion. How do we get from there to Panetta describing a U.S. security budget of $965 billion as the lowest we can safely go, and a budget of $950 billion as ‘doomsday’? Is the danger here to us or to the profits of the weapons makers who are also demanding that any cuts made be made to troops’ benefits rather than to weaponry?”