Saturday, December 09, 2006


The Republican Ideal of Responsibility: Blame Others for Your Mess

From Holzer and Swibel at Forbes, via t/o The U.S. armed services have requested a $160 billion supplemental appropriation to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the remainder of fiscal year 2007 - a staggering amount that, if approved by the Defense Department, may hasten the showdown between resurgent congressional Democrats and the Bush administration over the budget- busting War on Terror... Critics contend that the Bush administration has skirted the normal budget process for these defense expenditures to avoid scrutiny of the costs of the ongoing wars. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has sponsored legislation to fold these war costs into regular defense spending bills.. This particular bit of irresponsibility by the Congress-that-will-not-be-missed was excoriated not only by Democrats, but also by House Republicans, who blamed the failure to pass appropriations on Bill Frist. What a joy it was to see Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and David Obey (D-WI) side by side in calling Frist everything but a kitty killer. But there's nothing humorous about what it's doing to the armed forces: Soldiers preparing to ship to Iraq don't have enough equipment to train on because it's been left in Iraq, where it's most needed. Thousands of tanks and other vehicles sit at repair depots waiting to be fixed because funds are short. At the Red River Army Depot in Texas, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in October that at least 6,200 Humvees, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, trucks and ambulances were awaiting repair because of insufficient funds. There's a virtual graveyard of tanks and fighting vehicles at the Anniston Army Depot in Alabama. Depot spokeswoman Joan Gustafson said that the depot expects to repair 1,885 tanks and other armored vehicles during the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1. That's up from the 1,169 and 1,035 vehicles repaired in the prior two fiscal years. More than 73,000 soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and with problems such as drug abuse and depression....More than 1.4 million U.S. soldiers have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since late 2001, and about 26 percent have filed disability claims, according to raw data provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. That percentage could grow as soldiers leave the armed forces. And the soldiers are not receiving the medical care they need. This is how Republicans support the troops.
Over at Lawyers, Guns and Money I made a comment that is better suited to this thread. So, at the risk the lightening strike I deserve for doing this, I will quote myself:

The first thing the Democrats should do is make sure all defense funding for the war includes its own source of revenue to finance it - dedicated tax hikes. When Kerry gave his "I voted for it before I voted against it" answer to an audience question about why he voted against a supplemental Iraq War funding bill in its final form he was explaining that he supported the expenditure but would vote for it only if it included his amendment which provided for the revenues to fund it.

This is where the Dems should start. (And the tax should be aimed right taxpayers with more than $200,000 a year in earned income or $100,000 a year in passive income and oil company windfalls and other corporate profits.)

Let me expand upon this a bit here. We should all go around reminding conservatives of the dictum handed down from on high by their patron saint Milton Friedman, "To spend is to tax." Conservatives are hoping that if the payments are made in the out years it will be easier to make the working class the payer.

World War II was fought with near confiscatory tax rates (not to mention a relentless searching for and vilification of war profiteering) and the War on Terror is just like WWII, right - or was that George W. Bush is just like Churchill?.

Telling Americans that this war must be paid for and that the elites should take up the burden will go along way towards changing the tune in Washington. Either this war gets paid for now or the elites will be taxing away your medicare and social security benefits to pay for it later.
As long as posts are within TOS guidelines, we leave the lightning to God, CMike.

The Republicans learned the wrong lesson from Roosevelt: "Tax and spend" means that you could stimulate the economy by shifting money by taxation from investment/speculation into consumer demand. This makes for happy consumers who then vote for you to do more of the same.

The Republicans figured that you could do that in reverse: Not tax and still spend, but on Republican constituencies like defense contractors instead of, say, tech reps and receptionists. It works for a while, and while it does, you have very happy consumers-- in the top 1% of incomes.

The Balanced Budget Amendment is one way to tie the pain of taxation to the joy of spending to make sure that we do not do too much of either. The problem is that it is economically inefficient. Just as you may take out a mortgage to buy a house, nations sometimes need to spend more than they can reasonably receive in taxation in order to, for example, reduce the damage of a recession or Depression.

All of us struggle toward some better mechanism for ensuring that we do not spend without making provision for paying. But the fact is that the answer is better leaders, leaders who put the nation's interest ahead of their base.
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