Liberals in Congress and out are calling for a new tax to pay for the war on terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the same time, rising unemployment and falling political prospects have driven President Obama and friends to fumble for stimulus 2.0, the first $787 billion Obama stimulus having now so obviously if predictably failed. Only liberals could propose higher taxes and a jobs summit at the same time and not notice the conflict.
Of course, the real purpose of the tax proposal is to bring additional leftwing pressure on Obama to force him to surrender in Afghanistan. Whatever the purpose, there is a legitimate debate here. In addition to disrupting families and costing thousands of American lives in America’s defense, these wars are also expensive (over $100 billion annually), have gone on a long time (8 years for Afghanistan), and appear likely to continue for years to come.
In this context Chairman David Obey (D-WI) of the House Appropriations Committee talks about fiscal responsibility and “shared sacrifice” like Santa Claus preaching renunciation. In truth, he has a point but then draws the wrong conclusion. Congress should offset the costs of the war with spending reductions elsewhere. Congress’ pet projects should share and bear the full sacrifice.
The federal government is projected to spend almost $3.8 trillion in 2010. Between welfare payments to farmers, income support to academics, trips to the moon (been there, done that), Medicare fraud, subsidies to seniors, and so on, the Congress should be able to harness the brainpower of its legions of congressional staffers to cut spending just 2.6 percent. Not only would they then offset the costs of the war, but the serious gesture of fiscal responsibility to credit markets could also be the centerpiece of their new stimulus package, giving the Congress a badly needed two-fer.