So El Presidente announced his budget proposal on Monday. A $4 trillion tax-and-spend whopper, he’s calling it a budget “designed to bring middle class economics into the 21st Century.” Apparently these economics include buzz language straight out of the Greek elections, as they include a rejection of “austerity”. Or as I like to call it “Living within your means.”
In his speech he went in depth over numerous concerns regarding domestic spending. One thing he emphasized heavily was the security risks inherent to our current poor domestic infrastructure. I am actually glad to see a president recognizing that a bad domestic infrastructure leaves the nation at risk. I happen to agree that if our communication network, our Internet, or our power grid aren’t properly updated and maintained anyone with a grudge can hurt us right here at home. I’d like to see that prevented.
However, something I saw almost nothing of was a mention of his international agenda. Aside from praising the Department of Homeland Insecurity for their interfering with us for our own good, he left international spending virtually out of his speech. Given his speaking of further increases to our already four million word long tax code, I can only find his failure to mention international spending odd. Did he simply forget about it?
I find it unlikely that he forgot, given what he was talking about just last week. During his visit to India, Obama had plenty to say about American spending abroad. He spoke about both international trade between India and the U.S. and mutual security concerns. Most crucially to the speech he made Monday, in India he spoke of spending American tax dollars on these things, but he failed to mention any of them here at home.
So what are some of the things he spoke of over there?
Well, one of them was trade. $60 billion in trade moves between the U.S. and India. 2/3rds of that money winds up in India, and not in American pockets, leading to a $22 billion trade deficit with India.
Obama’s thoughts on that relationship were made clear in a speech he gave in New Delhi. “This is a win-win. It’s a win for America and our workers because U.S. exports to India are up nearly 35 percent, and those exports support about 170,000 well-paying American jobs.” Never mind that, given the 2/3rds trade deficit, it’s sending 340,000 well-paying American jobs to India. So what does he plan to do to further this relationship and expand the number of jobs he’s exporting?
“Over the next two years, our Export-Import Bank will commit up to $1 billion in financing to support “Made-in-America” exports to India. And OPIC (The Overseas Private Investment Corporation) will support lending to small and medium businesses across India that we anticipate will ultimately result in more than $1 billion in loans in underserved rural and urban markets. And our U.S. Trade and Development Agency will aim to leverage nearly $2 billion in investments in renewable energy in India.”
Of course, we probably shouldn’t be too worried about these numbers. His speech exaggerated the trade relationship between India and the U.S. to the tune of $40 billion. “Today, it’s nearly $100 billion a year.” I suppose he must have included that little extra bit in this week’s budget prematurely when he made that statement.
I suppose that exaggeration is necessary, though. He clearly wants Americans to see India as the new place to send off our money for cheap goods. He directly tied this with China. “We do about $560 billion a year with China,” he bragged. Of course, now that rising costs are leading to the end of the “made in China” era and replacing it with “move your entire investment portfolio to Chinese monopolies”, I suppose he thinks India is a good place to start sending American jobs instead. And he’s willing to spend $4 billion of U.S. tax dollars over the next two years to do it, only $1 billion of which is supposed to “support “Made-in-America” exports”. The rest of the funds raised here in the U.S. will go straight to India.
He also spoke about mutual defense concerns. “Our nations will be more secure, and the world will be a safer and a more just place when our two democracies — the world’s largest democracy and the world’s oldest democracy — stand together.” Of course, in his thirty minute long speech, made just before he departed India, he elaborated on this.
“We believe we can be even closer partners in insuring our mutual security,” he stated. He then drew a U.S.-India alliance directly into the difficult relations between China and its China Sea neighbors. “The United States welcomes a greater role for India in the Asia-Pacific, where the freedom of navigation must be upheld and disputes must be resolved peacefully.” To that end he proposed including India as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
Of course, if India agrees and moves towards such a partnership, that will result in more tax payer funds heading into India. U.S. defense spending in military aid for allied nations like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan absorbs billions of dollars annually. If India, the second largest population in the world, aligns with the U.S. (a nation one quarter the size) and receives similar aid as these other nations, the aid will doubtless be to scale.
Now, I believe bolstering alliances to slow, or even reverse, Chinese “land” grabs in the Pacific are imminently worthwhile. I’m alright with spending that money. But in Monday’s speech Obama’s sum total discussion of International coalition building in this direction was deafening silence. He praised the DHS, and completely left military spending, including spending on allies like Japan, Korea, and potentially India unmentioned.
It seems that Mr. President continues to forget that the American people are very aware that there is a world beyond our borders, and that we are concerned with what takes place there. He’s forgotten that we can watch what he says in India here at home. My only guess is that he is hoping that we will look at his new budget and consider his new tax and spend schemes to be reasonable by failing to include the extra spending he is proposing to do abroad. Once you add those in, however, it appears that the trade status with India isn’t the only math he got wrong.