Donald Koehler’s article of September 7 fails to account for the essential operational improvements and cost savings that will come from continuing to develop the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). Updating Patriot as he advocates will cost more but won’t provide the highly mobile 360-degree protection the Army has asked for. In fact, after billions and billions spent fixing Patriot over the past decade, the U.S. Army still does not have a system that meets its requirements.
Economy & Budget
Members of Congress will return home for yet another recess in the next few days, leaving behind nothing but a swirl of rumors about how they plan to address America’s major fiscal issues.
Until now, lawmakers seem to have held out hope that voters aren’t paying attention to the particulars of the “fiscal cliff” and America’s out-of-control national debt. Neither party revealed specific plans for dealing with these challenges at their recent political conventions, or since. New stories appear each day in the political press suggesting that lawmakers are preparing to once again punt on the tough choices required to address our looming fiscal crisis.
Before the federal government makes major moves to further destroy the credibility of the U.S. banking system with large scale investigations of failures, along with international banks, to eliminate or curtail money laundering, officials need to step back and take a close look at the huge burden any bank faces in complying with the regulations.
Imagine what would happen if someone flipped a switch, shutting off power to the entire world. That’s the premise of a new television series called Revolution. The plot centers on life 15 years after the world has been brought to a screeching halt, literally returned to the Dark Ages, after a massive blackout. Planes fall from the sky, hospitals shut down, communication is primitive and inefficient. It is a post-apocalyptic world: no power, no electricity, no functional infrastructure - just utter darkness and chaos.
Far fetched? Not really. In July, daily life stopped dead in its tracks for 670 million people, not once but twice, when 10% of the world’s population lost all power, spreading over almost 2000 miles. India was returned to a pre-industrial country in a matter of seconds.
But you don’t have to go halfway around the world to experience that kind of social and economic trauma. In 2003, nearly 55 million Americans were without power for almost 48 hours in vast areas of the Northeast and Midwest. The financial losses from two days “off the grid” were in the billions of dollars.
The cause of the 2003 blackout: simple human error, and not so simple equipment failures. Even with new regulatory controls enacted after the crisis, statistics indicate that a blackout of the same proportions will occur approximately every 25 years. Even today, reports by the American Society of Civil Engineers show that service interruptions and capacity limitations will cost American households and businesses a combined $197 billion in avoidable costs by the year 2020. Unless we want to end up where we began again and again, the United States needs a long-term strategy to ensure the reliability of the nation’s power grid.
At the Republican convention, Romney produced the predictable set of Republican bromides: cut taxes on corporations and the already rich, cut government spending (mainly on the lower-middle class and the poor), and gut business regulations.
On April 13, 2011, President Obama revealed his plan to cut the national deficit. In an address at George Washington University, he said, “We have to live within our means. We have to reduce our deficit, and we have to get back on a path that will allow us to pay down our debt. And we have to do it in a way that protects the recovery, protects the investments we need to grow, create jobs, and helps us win the future.”
As this year’s election season gains momentum, the most recent jobs report reminds Americans that more work remains to be done on getting America back to work.
One group for whom the jobs market has been particularly tough is U.S. servicemen and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and rejoining the workforce. Unemployment rates are as high as 29 percent for young veterans – 65 percent above those for other Americans in the same age groups. With thousands more American soldiers due home this year and next, those numbers could increase.
That “Census: Poverty still at highest level since 1993” is a stark reminder that, although we are the wealthiest nation the world has ever known, far too many children are going to bed hungry; far too many families are struggling to pay for a routine doctor’s visit, put gas in their car, or buy school supplies; and there is far too much work left for this Congress to do.
At this point in the presidential campaign, most Americans have heard plenty about the ugly outlook for the federal budget. Various public, quasi-public and private groups have studied the dilemma, and they’ve all reached the same conclusion: Unless we change course, we’re headed for a deep financial chasm.
There is no more urgent priority facing this Congress than preventing the U.S. economy from going over the fiscal cliff on January 1, 2013. Failure to act will slow growth and kill jobs—at the worst possible time.