In a revealing piece published Wednesday by WPLN's Blake Farmer, Rep. Jim Cooper seems so spooked by the prospect of his district getting carved up into elephant food that he's willing to make further cuts to Medicare while preserving the nation's absurdly astronomical defense spending.
Some Democrats in Congress have introduced legislation exempting Medicare from the automatic cuts. But Cooper’s concern is the Defense Department, which spent nearly $700 billion this year. By some estimates that’s as much as six times the military spending in second-place China. But Cooper says the Pentagon can’t risk another country coming even close.
“We are the greatest nation on the earth. We are the greatest nation in the history of the world, and we owe it to ourselves and to the world to keep it that way.”
Quite the hurly burly from Congress' true centrist. But the real kicker comes when Cooper claims that Medicare costs pose a threat to defense spending. Not only is providing healthcare for Grandma in the very for-profit system Cooper believes in, but it's just not as important as dropping bombs on brown-skinned grandmas halfway around the world.
Asked why he’s favoring Pentagon spending over health care, Cooper says federal entitlements are growing so fast that if they’re not trimmed back there won’t be any money left for defense.
Congressman Cooper is a member of the House Armed Services committee. While he doesn’t represent areas around Fort Campbell or Arnold Engineering and Design Center, he says he doesn’t believe the installations will be disproportionately hit by Defense Department cuts.
We're a big fan of visual learning here at Pith, so we'd like to direct the congressman's attention to the following easy-to-digest infographics:
For every $1 billion in spending, here's what you get:
Wowzers! Defense spending actually creates the fewest jobs, eh? Good thing it already comprises most of our national budget:
Lastly, here's a picture of a dead horse getting beaten:
Perhaps Cooper's defense of U.S. saber-rattling and the largesse it requires has less to do with personal conviction and more to do with political calculation. If Cooper's 5th district is gerrymandered to include Ft. Campbell, such bluster might be designed to bolster the incumbent's aggro-cred against a potential Republican challenger.
Or maybe that's just Cooper's patented brand of centrism for you: If you want to get hit by twice as many cars, just close your eyes and stand in the middle of the road.