Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Fiscal Responsibility, Or Politics As Usual?
Reports have surfaced that some leaders of the Democratic party are calling for a "War Tax" if The United States is to move forward with its efforts in Afghanistan.In an effort to appear fiscally responsible, Rep. David Obey (D-WI) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) are amongst those who have put forward the concept of a tax on Americans, specifically targeting the wealthy, as a means to fund any further deployment of troops and continuation of the now eight year old conflict.
As a concept this is not completely wrongheaded; we need to fund our expenditures, and there is a lot of money being spent overseas in an effort to provide security to our nation and the world. It is the politics of the proposition that I believe need to be called into question.
For ever and a day politicians from both sides of the aisle have been spending tax dollars like drunken sailors at a strip club; put something remotely attractive in front of them and they are sure to cough up the dough.
Most specifically, with Democrats holding the majority in both chambers, Congress has signed into law the $787 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 "Stimulus" bill, as well as the $700 billion TARP Reform and Accountability Act of 2009. Both of these pieces of legislation were passed without forward-thinking fiscal accountability. Essentially, our government planned to either borrow or print the money needed to pay for both of these bills. Both have been terribly mismanaged, and have proven to be extremely misguided expenditures of taxpayer dollars. The closest anyone might come to having a defense for TARP is that America was teetering on the brink of economic disaster and that TARP kept us from certain depression; there is no defense for the "Stimulus," period.
Suddenly we are informed by Congressional representatives that there is a need for fiscal responsibility regarding our national security, and something smells fishy about it to me. I suspect that there is a chess game about to be played by the Democratic party on Capitol Hill, and it involves our troops and their livelihood as well as our safety.
President Obama already has adjusted the nation's budget to include wartime expenditures. This was a hot-button topic during the campaign and then immediately following Obama's election leading up to the signing of the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, and the language of the Department of Defense section of the 2010 budget clearly reads "Includes $75.5 billion in supplemental appropriations for 2009 and $130.0 billion for 2010 to support ongoing overseas contingency operations, while increasing efforts in Afghanistan and drawing down troops from Iraq responsibly."
Understanding this, we know that the funding for any addition of troops to Afghanistan will in part come from the funding for troops already deployed in Iraq. Additionally, knowing that it is already included in a budget means it will be easier to include in future budgets, with funding to be provided by already anticipated resources. Given that the Preamble of our Constitution reads "Provide for the common defence" I believe that Afghanistan should be prioritized over other issues, and if cuts or restraints are needed for future budgets, certainly other items should be considered less important.
However, what it all comes down to is that this offers a perfect political opportunity for Democrats to put anti-tax representatives, specifically Republicans, behind the proverbial 8-ball. If Republicans or moderate Democrats were to speak out or vote against any legislation that provided additional funding for the troops, the Democrats will instantly jump all over them and make an issue of that position. Claims will be made that these individuals are not willing to do whatever it takes to support our troops, and that they are willing to fight a war but only if it is George W. Bush's war, but now that this war is Obama's to deal with these people no longer support every effort being made to win.
This will be hypocrisy in the highest form possible, of course, given that those who wish to enact taxing legislation have not been fiscally responsible in the past, and likely have no interest whatsoever in moving forward towards a winning end to a conflict that needs to have a positive outcome.
So while these politicians are putting froward the impression that they have suddenly found fiscal responsibility, don't be fooled: it's nothing more than another day in Washington D.C. politics as usual.