Friday, October 05, 2007

Would conservatives and Republicans support the war in Iraq if they had to pay for it?

Congressman David Obey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, is proposing a temporary surtax to pay for President Bush’s request for $145 billion in supplemental spending for Iraq. The surtax would come to about $30 per average taxpayer.

According to Obey there is no sense of shared sacrifice in this conflict. Military families are making the sacrifice while tax cuts simply shifts the financial costs of the war to future generations via deficit spending. How committed are supporters of the Bush policy if they had to pay for it? As E.J. Dionne puts it,
… What if the price for passing President Bush's supplemental appropriation were a tax to cover its costs? What if opponents of the war voted no because they are against Bush's policy and Republicans voted no because they think low taxes are more important than national security as they define it?

That's an aggressive way to frame any such antitax "no" votes, but it's also accurate. If a war appropriations bill with a tax included went down to overwhelming defeat, wouldn't that tell us something about the depth of commitment to this war?
It would indeed.


Comrade Kevin said...

I find that all kinds of ironic. A member of a party that often won't raise the taxes needed to fund needed social programs---now thinks nothing of raising taxes to pay for an ill-fated war effort.

If I were a Democratic politician, I'd make a point to hammer that point home.

Bill Baar said...

Obey proposes a tax instead of simply calling for us to get out.

It's a lack of courage among Dems.

AQ attacked the World Trade Center not to defeat the US militarily, but to defeat us Economically. AQ was seeking to throw the world economy into deep recession.

A tax hike then, or now; exactly the wrong strategy.

What we're seeing with Dems is a failure to confront the war with any sort of courage.

Read Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris: Dems could do far more to end Iraq war

Galling as it may be to Democrats, Bush still can claim to be acting with more clarity and courage than the congressional majority.

He believes the Iraq war is right and has thrown away things most politicians crave — approval ratings, and potentially his reputation in history — to get what he wants.

Democratic leaders believe the war is wrong but have pursued their beliefs with a series of ginger calculations that so far have achieved no substantive changes in policy.

They are acting with the same defensive-mindedness that led many Democrats to swallow deep misgivings and vote five years ago to authorize the war in the first place.

Many Democrats on Capitol Hill are in no mood just now to be lectured by MoveOn, the group whose ad denouncing “General Betray Us” was widely perceived to have backfired badly.

Whatever one’s view on the merits of the war, however, MoveOn Executive Director Eli Pariser is right that his ostensible Democratic allies have defined themselves by caution.

And Pat Buchanen just today,

Congress has failed to end U.S. involvement in Iraq, or to contain the surge, or impose its formula for fighting the war, leaving the party base in sputtering, exasperated, impotent rage.

Why has Congress failed? Because it is terrified of the possible consequences of imposing its policy. Congress fears Bush may be right -- that a rapid troop withdrawal risks a strategic disaster and humanitarian catastrophe. Having been lacerated for the loss of Eastern Europe to Stalin, of China to Mao, and of Southeast Asia to Hanoi, they desperately do not want to be held responsible for losing Iraq to Islamic radicalism.

A party terrified of consequences: doesn't act.

Instead it offers an inconsequential -and probably destructive if implemented-- surtax instead.

A ginger calculation and a sure sign they're headed for oblivion like the anti-war Whigs of the 1840s. No Lincoln will rise from these ashes either.

Charles said...

Ignorant question.

We are already paying for the war. We pay taxes, and our taxes pay for the war, as well as for everything else government does.

And it pays for the interest and principle payments on all the money we borrow to spend on things we don't have the taxes to pay for now.

And we know that republicans are rich. And the rich pay most of the taxes. So the republicans are paying for most of the war.

In fact, under Obey's plan, poor people and democrats might actually end up paying MORE for the war than they do now, because a lot of people don't even pay 2% tax.

Why don't we have a new income tax, evenly paid by everybody, to cover the new SCHIPS program spending? Or all the other new spending the democrats want?

Why is it only the war that they want to tax extra, and why not tax everybody the same?

After all, the income tax is already "progressive", hitting the rich much harder than the poor. So why should the additional funding for the war be done the same way? Shouldn't it be just an adder to everybody's tax burden?

I realise that the key to Democrat's power is giving lots of free stuff to the people who vote for them, and getting the people who don't vote for them to pay for it.

That's why the founders said everybody should be hit equally with any tax -- so the government wouldn't be tempted to buy votes with other people's money.

But now the democrats buy vote with republican money, and the republicans buy votes by borrowing the money.

And people vote for whoever gives them the most "free" stuff.

And ignorantly believe that NOBODY is paying for the war.

Scott Nolan said...

Charles, you are wrong. The tax system may have been designed to be progressive, but the simple fact is that today there are so many loopholes and qualified deductions and special exemptions that the rich get out of most of their tax burdens quite easily.

I know this is not a representative sample, but I pay less taxes than my brother because I am wealthier, have more investments, and much larger salary than he does. Bush's bullshit tax refund gave me back over $2000 while my brother only got $300, even though (due to deductions and losses) my actual payout that year was less than my brother's. We have a regressive tax system. Ask Warren Buffett, he's said the same.