New Hampshire’s junior US Senator has been in the news lately, full of outrage at the new budget deal being struck. Sadly for us all, she’s not outraged about it for the right reasons. Senator Ayotte is all puffed up about cuts to military pensions. The NH mainstream media, in their role as GOP stenographers, trumpeted the outrage with no critical analysis and little fact. They howled their horror that Senator Shaheen would vote for this! OMG!!
The abhorrent “bipartisan” budget deal trims military pensions by about $6 billion over a 10-year period. It’s a reduction in cost of living increases for retirees that applies only while they’re still of working age. These are frequently retirees on their second careers – many working for defense contractors. This isn’t taking food out of the mouths of the poor grunts stuck in Afghanistan. Like many things, it sounds bad, until you know the details.
Our Kelly counts on an uncritical media, and she is rewarded for her devotion most of the time. The GOP media panderers have failed to point out that she hasn’t voiced any objection at all to cutting off benefits for the long term unemployed – many of whom are also veterans.
Ayotte, in her explanation of why she wasn’t voting for this budget wagged a finger and said that surely we could find $6 billion elsewhere. She’s absolutely correct about that. One aspect of the budget she agreed with is increasing defense spending by about $22 billion. Take that increase away, and there’s no reason to commit austerity against any veteran. The Pentagon doesn’t need an increase. Their budget should be shrinking, and Ayotte should be fighting against Pentagon waste. The F-35 fighter plane that doesn’t fly is still being lavishly funded with our tax dollars. The M1A1 Abrams tanks are still rolling off the assembly line and going straight to storage, because the Army doesn’t want them. The C-27J Spartan cargo planes are still being built, and going right to boneyards. The Air Force doesn’t want them. There have been 16 built, and five more scheduled to be produced in 2014, at an estimated waste of $432 million.
Ayotte an only pay lip service to Pentagon waste, because actually looking into it won’t make Senator Ayotte popular with her supporters or her financial backers. Ayotte’s #1 donor industry is the securities and investment sector. Goldman Sachs is her fifth largest donor. Many of the same investment companies that back Senator Ayotte also fund defense contractors. Goldman Sachs touts their socially responsible investment practices, while loaning money to nuclear weapons manufacturers. Fidelity, another Ayotte funder also is very generous in loaning to big defense contractors. A closer look also reveals that BAE Systems, Honeywell International, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon are also Ayotte donors. They all have the distinction of being the recipients of the largesse of the big banksters like Goldman Sachs and Fidelity. It’s a nasty little circle, and to keep all of them filling her campaign coffers, Ayotte has to continue to increase the defense budget. A cynic might also add that she has to continue to increase the number of veterans as well.
Senator Ayotte would much rather take food away from low income children, which is rather short sighted, given that some of them will grow up to be the kind of cannon fodder required to fight the endless wars that she and her ilk would like to inflict upon us.
The uncritical, GOP toadies of NH media continue to fail us, by not even bothering to look at the reasons behind Ayotte’s vote.
They’ve failed us a lot lately. The wheels are coming off the clown car known as the NHGOP, and that, too is going unreported. The freedumb/libertea faction is at war with the more traditional members of the party. The traditional Republicans are aware that they don’t have any kind of a bench, and that the people signed up to run against Senator Shaheen are silly candidates. The campaign of Jim Rubens was over the same day he announced his candidacy. The campaign of former Senator Bob Smith is an embarrassment to the party. They’re working to recruit and squeeze as much out of former Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts as they can. He’s got name recognition and he’s got money. That interests them. That he was only able to finish out a term before getting kicked to the curb doesn’t seem to be an issue. He was elected in current century and doesn’t have a bad toupee, which makes him a star already.
The freedumb and libertea crowd hates him, because he’s actually in favor of putting some restrictions on gun ownership. Brown was scheduled to be appearing at a fundraiser, even as the NH media debated whether or not he’d run for Senate, if he was moving to NH, and if they could hang his picture in their lockers. This led to State Rep. JR Hoell of Dunbarton talking about how Brown was unacceptable, and it might be time for armed insurrection, just like “it happened in the Revolutionary War.” Even the worst students are aware that the Revolutionary War was not fought over a political candidate that a faction of the Republican Party objected to. This is the equivalent of a toddler having a tantrum because he is told he can’t have candy for dinner. The NH media did not report this story. It was mentioned by out of state news groups, and even reported internationally, but the only NH media outlet that reported Hoell’s rather treasonous threats was the online Patch news group.
Hoell has since gone on to bellow that Scott Brown has BROKEN HIS OATH to uphold the Constitution at least 3 times. In Hoell speak, that means that Brown discussed banning some semi-automatic rifles. Try as I might, I can’t find any mention of semi-automatic rifles in the 2nd Amendment. In fact, I can’t find the right to own as many guns as one wants in that rather brief amendment. Brown, at least, was a part of a well-regulated militia, which is more than we can say for Rep. Hoell.
It’s generous of the NH media to gloss over Ayotte’s vote, or give Hoell the gift of not reporting on his lunatic pronouncements. It’s also deeply unfair to voters who deserve to be well informed. A simple explanation of the $6 billion in cuts to military pensions should have been included in the news stories. And everyone who lives in NH should be aware that there is a dangerous faction of the NH GOP that threaten “revolution” every time they don’t get their way.
© sbruce 2013 published as biweekly column in the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.