A trillion here, a trillion there...

This is the real state of the union:  The president that brought us the first $2 trillion federal budget is now bringing us the first $3 trillion federal budget.   And the people complaining the loudest are those who say it's not enough!

Bush is sending Congress a $3 trillion spending blueprint that would
provide a big boost to defense and protect his signature tax cuts.

It seeks sizable savings in government health care programs and puts
the squeeze on much of the rest of government, but it would still
generate near-record budget deficits over the next two years.

Even before receiving the document Monday, Democrats were attacking it
for slashing programs to help the poor while protecting tax cuts for
the wealthy.

"This is a budget that sticks it to the middle class, comforts the
wealthy and has a set of priorities that are not the priorities of the
American people," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad,

Whatever.  In the good ol' I.O.U.S.A., argument is limited strictly to nibbling around the margins.  Any presidential candidate who talks seriously about cutting federal spending is, well, marginalized.

Any talk about our $1 trillion empire is similarly off-limits, witness the military portion of the budget:

As Congress and the public focus on more than $600 billion already approved in supplemental budgets to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for counterterrorism operations, the Bush administration has with little notice reached a landmark in military spending.

When the Pentagon on Monday unveils its proposed 2009 budget of $515.4
billion, annual military spending, when adjusted for inflation, will
have reached its highest level since World War II.

That new Defense Department budget proposal, which is to pay for the
standard operations of the Pentagon and the military but does not
include supplemental spending on the war efforts or on nuclear weapons,
is an increase in real terms of about 5 percent over last year.

Logically, one might ask whether bin Laden and his cohorts pose the sort of threat that Hitler did; can the terrorists really "win" and make us all speak Arabic?  But logic does not enter the equation when the military industrial complex that grew like topsy after WWII is fighting for a new "baseline" budget figure:

About 14 percent of the national economy was spent on the military
during the Korean War, and about 9 percent during the conflict in
Vietnam. By comparison, when the base Pentagon budget, nuclear weapons
and supplemental war costs are combined, they total just over 4 percent
of the current economy, according to budget experts. The base Pentagon
spending alone is about 3.4 percent of gross domestic product…

“I believe that we need to have a broad public discussion about what we should spend on defense,” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates
and Admiral Mullen have said military spending should not drop below 4
percent of the national economy. “I really do believe this 4 percent
floor is important,” Admiral Mullen said. “It’s really important, given
the world we’re living in, given the threats that we see out there, the
risks that are, in fact, global, not just in the Middle East.”

Hey, empire doesn't come cheap.  And any questions about whether we can afford it are simply not open for discussion.

This can't end well. 

The Daily Reckoning