War “Effort” No Effort for the Rest of Us

Of the stack of proposals for what to do next in Iraq, no one has suggested the obvious: Let’s tax everyone for what we’re spending there.

America needs truth for a change. And nothing tells the truth like a bill come due.

Since President Bush took office, he’s more than doubled annual defense and war spending, doubled spending on homeland security, increased corporate subsidies, and, with the exception of social programs for the poor and needy, increased spending nearly everywhere.

As the country further drained its treasury fighting two expensive wars, instead of attempting to pay for the fighting, Mr. Bush enacted tax cuts far exceeding the two largest tax reductions in the post-WW II era – the Kennedy tax cut in 1964, and the Reagan tax cut in 1981.

If you or I did this, we’d be called irresponsible, even mad.

Instead, his well-heeled supporters celebrated Mr. Bush. Of course, those same patrons are in America’s wealthiest 1 percent, the folks who got most of the tax relief.

It comes as no surprise that Mr. Bush has forced our national debt to $8.7-trillion, up a staggering 65 percent just since he took office. Last year we spent almost as much on interest payments on that debt as we did for defense.

Our national debt would be even more onerous if not for a combination shell-game-Ponzi-scheme that enables our government to make the debt appear smaller by squandering today’s Social Security and Medicare surpluses. Established for use when those programs run into tougher times years from now, Congress grabs this country’s savings account to throw at current expenses like the war. Total looted so far: $1.75 trillion.

In fact, Mr. Bush’s latest budget treats Medicare and Social Security like unwanted stepchildren.

Of course, that’s the point. To spend our country broke is the surest way to diminish “Big Government Social Programs” so despised by this administration. Killing off government to make way for corporate rule is the very core of the “Bush agenda.”

As Mr. Bush calls for a $70-billion cut in Medicare and Medicaid, he demands more money than ever for well-connected war contractors – $140-billion in new weapons procurement, most to fight last century’s cold war including $4.6-billion for 20 more F-22A fighters whose primary mission is to shoot down Soviet MIGs.

A Billion Here, A Billion There

Truth be told, no one really knows how much Mr. Bush’s war in Iraq is costing us. Recent reports of $9-billion lost or stolen in bricks of $100 bills only begins to illustrate obstacles involved.

Congress pressed the administration for years to provide war-cost estimates.

Initially the Bush administration refused. Then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz assured us that Mr. Bush’s War would pay for itself. When a top White House economic adviser suggested that the war might cost $100-billion to $200-billion, he was ridiculed and shown the door.

The most realistic price tag I’ve seen is $700-billion; double that when including indirect expenses such as taking care of our severely wounded for the rest of their lives.

Who’s paying? Not you. Not me.

The US, now the world’s biggest debtor, borrows these billions from the Chinese, the Saudis and others who, with this new leverage over our economy, do not necessarily have our best interests at heart.

Who’s paying? Since the Iraq War began, almost 3,200 of our brave American service men and women have lost their lives. Another 32,600 have been wounded, many so severely maimed their families have difficulty recognizing them. Tens of thousands more are returning home in severe mental distress, only to be forced to return to Iraq again and again.

These aren’t my kids. Chances are, they’re not yours. They are certainly not the President’s or those of most members of Congress.

The so-called war effort is no effort at all on most of us. Our courageous Army, Navy, and Marines are at war, not us. To most of us, war is something that drones in the background, something to be paid for with the blood and out of the pockets of others.

Is this fair?

For all the hullabaloo in Washington today about whether or not we should continue with Mr. Bush’s War, no one – no Republican, no Democrat – has the guts to suggest that we tax ourselves now for this war’s real dollar cost.

It’s our war started by our President on our watch. Shouldn’t we be paying for it, not our children and their children and theirs? Even fiscal conservatives – perhaps especially fiscal conservatives – must agree. And yet…

Don’t Worry! Be Happy!

President Bush says everything’s fine. The economy? The deficit will vanish by 2012. The war? Our Vice-President just reiterated that “we’ve had enormous successes, and we will continue to have enormous successes in Iraq.” By God, the news from the White House is bright!

If only.

Drawing on the lessons of Vietnam when US citizens took to the streets against their President, this administration is downright furtive about the realities of this war. We, the people in whose name the war is fought, are kept in the dark as much as possible.

We can’t even see the flag-draped bodies of our valiant soldiers as they arrive back home. Our President rightly fears that once we catch on that this war is costing us hugely, we will push to withdraw. Hence, we see no war budgets, no cost projections, no long-range plans, no truth, and no taxes.

Let us eat cake.



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