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For a new era

The fact that Joe Biden's proposed budget has detractors from both sides of the political aisle should not be surprising to anyone. Biden is a self-proclaimed centrist and sometimes that means that your proposed solution does not make either side happy. This is what Biden is facing in regard to military spending. Now, military spending in America has always been a contentious issue of sorts. America's defence budget, by and large, has seen steady increases in recent years. Biden has continued this trend by increasing the military budget 1.7 per cent to $ 753 billion.

The increase has antagonised many of Biden's progressive supporters who are disappointed that the defence department, which has never been audited, continues to get more funds at a time when other vital projects could receive the funding. Many Democratic lawmakers have been vocal in recent years regarding rampant problems of 'waste and fraud' that plague the Pentagon and the US military-industrial complex at large. The pandemic as seen by many was a time for America to reverse many of its budgetary priorities of previous years including its massive military budget.

On the flipside, you have the entire Republican-conservative side that is up in arms about what they see as not enough military spending. The idea that it isn't enough is guided by projections for the military budget in 2022 that was given by the previous administration. Republicans are highlighting that the 'reduced' budget sends a terrible message to US allies at a time when a rising China and resurgent Russia is among the many threats that the US and its allies abroad face. Even conservative economic experts who are otherwise concerned that the bill and its spending will spike the US budget deficit, are expressing great concern that the government is not spending enough on the military.

In some ways, this provides an accurate enough picture of the complicated politics around the US military-industrial complex. Budgetary deficits are okay so long as the spending relates to the American military. But more to the point, this is just one battle of the many that Biden is going to be fighting in the coming months as he tries to affect one of the largest spending shifts in US history. True to his word, Biden's proposed budget provides a fair glimpse at his priorities as a president. Fundings to various departments that were neglected during the Trump days is being increased. This includes the department of education, health and human services, environmental protection and the commerce department. The budget's broad focus on many of the areas that are critical to US recovery has been deeply appreciated by many, even if it is ruffling quite a few feathers as well. It reverses decades of austerity in healthcare, immigration reform and climate change. The proposal also doubles down on some of Biden's big-ticket ideas like the additional $ 600 million it proposes to buy electric vehicles for government agencies and setup charging stations. The US Postal Service will be one of the agencies that will come under this change.

Significantly, this proposal does not include the massive $ 2 trillion-plus infrastructure bill that Biden had previously proposed. That particular bill has received a similar amount of heckling and panic from Republicans who are nervous due to the broad sweep of the proposed spending that is part of the plan. As a whole Republicans have raised the concern that Biden is piling on a liberal wishlist of spending proposals at a time when the US economy can ill afford adventures. Of course, this is a matter of perspective and depending on who you ask, this is precisely the correct time for the US government to be spending big to kick start the economy and create new jobs. This confusion revolves around the long-running debate over whether increased debt is bad. There have been fears for decades that the US will become a failed state if its national debt crossed its GDP. That already happened and it happened during the Trump era. Nevertheless, the US is yet to crash and there is very little clear idea on whether there even exists a threshold which the US debt cannot safely cross. Economists now agree that so long as the debt is increased for the purpose of boosting or fortifying the economy in some regard, the situation will remain entirely manageable. Regardless, Biden is likely to be hard-pressed to convince the Republican side of this reality.

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