Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin
Moscow, which conspicuously left out any mention of China’s growing influence and power in its newly adopted military doctrine, is revealing the depth of its alarm, however, through its trade and business decisions, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The new doctrine takes aim at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which Moscow identifies as a threat due to its eastward expansion ambitions. But a glance at the trade balance sheets between Moscow and Beijing and other business decisions reveals an equal concern is developing there.
Not only are trade channels drying up, the Kremlin is planning an uptick in military exercises this year focusing on the Far East and also is reaching out to enhance its relationship with nations that surround China, signaling a possible containment policy toward Beijing.
Russia recently agreed to sell a dozen Su-30 top-of-the-line fighter aircraft to Vietnam, in addition to an increase in other arms exports such as the recent Vietnamese purchase of six Russian Kilo submarines.
A key analyst has concluded that while Moscow’s policy doesn’t directly mention China, it includes references to the nation because of its mention of a “real possibility of military conflict.” The alarm follows China’s training program for what would appear to be an invasion of Russia.
Further, Russian-Chinese trade last year fell some 31.8 percent from 2008, to only $38.8 billion.
The country first got into debt to help pay for the Revolutionary War. Growing ever since, the debt stands today at a staggering $11.4 trillion – equivalent to about $37,000 for each and every American. And it’s expanding by over $1 trillion a year.
The mountain of debt easily could become the next full-fledged economic crisis without firm action from Washington, economists of all stripes warn.
“Unless we demonstrate a strong commitment to fiscal sustainability in the longer term, we will have neither financial stability nor healthy economic growth,” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently told Congress.
Higher taxes, or reduced federal benefits and services – or a combination of both – may be the inevitable consequences.
The debt is complicating efforts by President Obama and Congress to cope with the worst recession in decades as stimulus and bailout spending combine with lower tax revenues to widen the gap.
Interest payments on the debt alone cost $452 billion last year – the largest federal spending category after Medicare-Medicaid, Social Security and defense. It’s quickly crowding out all other government spending. And the Treasury is finding it harder to find new lenders.
The United States went into the red the first time in 1790 when it assumed $75 million in the war debts of the Continental Congress.
Alexander Hamilton, the first treasury secretary, said, “A national debt, if not excessive, will be to us a national blessing.”
Since then, the nation has only been free of debt once, in 1834-1835.
The national debt has expanded during times of war and usually contracted in times of peace, while staying on a generally upward trajectory. Over the past several decades, it has climbed sharply – except for a respite from 1998 to 2000, when there were annual budget surpluses, reflecting in large part what turned out to be an overheated economy.
The debt soared with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and economic stimulus spending under President George W. Bush and now Obama.
The odometer-style “debt clock” near Times Square – put in place in 1989 when the debt was a mere $2.7 trillion – ran out of numbers and had to be shut down when the debt surged past $10 trillion in 2008.
The clock has since been refurbished so higher numbers fit. There are several debt clocks on websites maintained by public interest groups that let you watch hundreds, thousands, millions zip by in a matter of seconds.
The debt gap is “something that keeps me awake at night,” Obama says.
He pledged to cut the budget “deficit” roughly in half by the end of his first term. But “deficit” just means the difference between government receipts and spending in a single budget year.
This year’s deficit is now estimated at about $1.85 trillion.
Deficits don’t reflect holdover indebtedness from previous years. Some spending items – such as emergency appropriations bills and receipts in the Social Security program – aren’t included, either, although they are part of the national debt.
The national debt is a broader, and more telling, way to look at the government’s balance sheets than glancing at deficits.
According to the Treasury Department, which updates the number “to the penny” every few days, the national debt was $11,518,472,742,288 on Wednesday.
The overall debt is now slightly over 80% of the annual output of the entire U.S. economy, as measured by the gross domestic product.
By historical standards, it’s not proportionately as high as during World War II, when it briefly rose to 120% of GDP. But it’s still a huge liability.
Also, the United States is not the only nation struggling under a huge national debt. Among major countries, Japan, Italy, India, France, Germany and Canada have comparable debts as percentages of their GDPs.
Where does the government borrow all this money from?
The debt is largely financed by the sale of Treasury bonds and bills. Even today, amid global economic turmoil, those still are seen as one of the world’s safest investments.
That’s one of the rare upsides of U.S. government borrowing.
Treasury securities are suitable for individual investors and popular with other countries, especially China, Japan and the Persian Gulf oil exporters, the three top foreign holders of U.S. debt.
But as the U.S. spends trillions to stabilize the recession-wracked economy, helping to force down the value of the dollar, the securities become less attractive as investments. Some major foreign lenders are already paring back on their purchases of U.S. bonds and other securities.
And if major holders of U.S. debt were to flee, it would send shock waves through the global economy – and sharply force up U.S. interest rates.
As time goes by, demographics suggest things will get worse before they get better, even after the recession ends, as more baby boomers retire and begin collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits.
While the president remains personally popular, polls show there is rising public concern over his handling of the economy and the government’s mushrooming debt – and what it might mean for future generations.
If things can’t be turned around, including establishing a more efficient health care system, “We are on an utterly unsustainable fiscal course,” said the White House budget director, Peter Orszag.
Some budget-restraint activists claim even the debt understates the nation’s true liabilities.
The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, established by a former commerce secretary and investment banker, argues that the $11.4 trillion debt figures does not take into account roughly $45 trillion in unlisted liabilities and unfunded retirement and health care commitments.
That would put the nation’s full obligations at $56 trillion, or roughly $184,000 per American, according to this calculation.
‘This isn’t like a convenient oversight, this is intentional’
By Bob Unruh
President Obama’s proposed economic stimulus plan makes a deliberate – and unconstitutional – attempt to censor religious speech and worship on school campuses across the nation, according to a lawyer who argued related cases before the U.S. Supreme Court 20 years ago and won them all.
“This isn’t like a convenient oversight. This is intentional. This legislation pokes its finger in the eyes of people who hold religious beliefs,” Jay Sekulow, chief of the American Center for Law and Justice, told WND today.
His was the organization that decades ago argued on behalf of speech freedom on school campuses, winning repeatedly at the U.S. Supreme Court. Since then, the 2001 Good News Club v. Milford Central School District decision was added, clarifying that restricting religious speech within the context of public shared-use facilities is unconstitutional.
The problem in the proposed stimulus bill comes from a provision that states: “PROHIBITED USES OF FUNDS. – No funds awarded under this section may be used for – (C) modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities – (i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or (ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission.”
The wording that specifically targets religious speech already has been approved by the majority Democrats in the U.S. House – all GOP members opposed it. In the Senate, Jim DeMint, R-S.C., proposed an amendment to eliminate it, but again majority Democrats decided to keep the provision targeting religious instruction and activities.
Critics argued schools would accept any money offered, then impose a ban on religious events.
DeMint warned organizations such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ, Catholic Student Ministries, Hillel and other religious groups would face new bans on access to public facilities that would not apply to other organizations.
“This is a direct attack on students of faith, and I’m outraged Democrats are using an economic stimulus bill to promote discrimination,” DeMint said. “Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for siding with the ACLU over millions of students of faith.”
“These students simply want equal access to public facilities, which is their constitutional right. This hostility toward religion must end. Those who voted to for this discrimination are standing in the schoolhouse door to deny people of faith from entering any campus building renovated by this bill,” said DeMint.
The senator said the stimulus bill now becomes an “ACLU stimulus” that has the goal of triggering lawsuits “designed to intimidate religious organizations across the nation.”
“This language is so vague, it’s not clear if students can even pray in a dorm room renovated with this funding since that is a form of ‘religious worship.’ If this provision remains in the bill, it will have a chilling effect on students of faith in America,” he said.
DeMint cited Obama’s statement at the National Prayer Breakfast this week that faith “can promote a greater good for all of us.”
“This provision is an assault against both. It’s un-American and it’s unconstitutional. Intolerant and it’s intolerable,” DeMint said.
The ban on religious organizations is linked to the $3.5 billion intended for “renovation of public or private college and university facilities.”
The ACLJ, which focuses on constitutional law, said the provision “has nothing to do with economic stimulus and everything to do with religious discrimination.”
“The thing is I litigated these cases on these exact issues 20 years ago,” Sekulow told WND. “Not only did we win, two of the decisions were unanimous and the other was 8-1.
“We’re seeing a rollback to the 1970s regarding church-state relations,” he said. “That’s what is troubling. It is a complete rollback that now institutionalizes discrimination through targeting religion.”
Sekulow said he already is drafting a complaint that will challenge the constitutionality of the provision, to be used if it isn’t removed.
He said under current court precedents, it will be a open-and-shut victory.
However, he also warned that the problem is the damage that can be done within the probable four years it would take to get the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court and what that court would look like at that point.
Under Obama, he said, “there will be an ideology shift.” New appointments to the bench by Obama, he said, would be “much more left of where Justices (Ruth Bader) Ginsburg and (Stephen) Breyer are.”
On an online forums page, readers were incensed.
- “Here comes the assault against Christian churches … Looks like he’s trying to see how much damage he can do in the briefest period of time.”
- “Obama is the most dangerous man of our times, period. He will seek to overturn everything our nation was built upon, personal freedom, capitalism, even the rock of faith. And he will seek to do it from within, openly, overtly and boldly. Will Christians now respond to this dangerous man in a strong, unified way? Or will Obama succeed in destroying the fabric of the greatest nation in human history?”.
- “He’s just following the Saul Alinsky rule (in his book, Rules for Radicals) to ‘clothe everything you do in morality’ because this is what most effectively fools the ‘middle class’ into agreeing with what you want to do.”