Friday, October 12, 2007

Dick Polman writes about the recent Republican presidential debate and the meaning of sacrifice when it comes to the Iraq war:
Seriously, are these candidates so committed to the war in Iraq that they would be prepared to ask the current generation of Americans to pay for it?

Politicians in both parties have long required that kind of sacrifice. The first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, imposed an estate tax on the rich in order to pay for his Union army. Another Republican, William McKinley, did the same to help pay for the Spanish-American war. His Republican successor, Theodore Roosevelt, kept it on the books in case of wartime emergency, saying that “the man of great wealth owes a particular obligation to the state because he derives special advantage from the mere existence of government. Democratic presidents raised taxes to pay for World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

George W. Bush has invoked FDR and World War II in order to inspire listeners about the stakes in Iraq, but he never quotes what FDR said five weeks after Pearl Harbor: “War costs money. So far, we have hardly begun to pay for it.” Nor does he quote what FDR said a year earlier, when he warned Americans that they would need to sacrifice in order to shore up the British in their fight against Hitler: “A part of the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes.”

Instead, today’s Americans sacrifice by spending their Bush tax cuts at the mall. Basically – and this too might have been fertile turf at the Tuesday debate, which was supposed to be primarily about economics – the Bush team is paying for this war by putting the tab on the American credit card, by running up the national debt. And burgeoning nations such as China are gaining long-term economic leverage against us by buying up that debt.
Just imagine if taxes had been raised at the start of this war to help pay for it -- as we've done through history. Imagine how much more unpopular this war would be now! Already 60%-70% of the public is against it, but if the public had the additional burden (beyond just guilt and frustration) of higher taxes, you better believe this percentage would now be approaching 100% against. I have a feeling the neocons knew this all along.

No comments: