You break the peace, you buy the war
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), believes such a levy should be on the agenda of the debt-reduction “supercommittee.”
“These wars ought to be paid for and not put on a credit card so that our kids will have to pay for this in the future,” McGovern said in a recent telephone interview. It’s morally wrong for members [of Congress] to call for support of our soldiers and then not ask the rest of us to pay for it .?.?. or have it left to the poor and middle-income and seniors to bear the sacrifice along with our soldiers and their families. That’s wrong.”
More than $1 trillion already has been added to the deficit by expenditures generated by Iraq and Afghanistan, the first wars undertaken by U.S. presidents since the War of 1812 that have not been financed in part by a special tax.
It’s nice to hear McGovern put forth the argument. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t seem like anyone with any real power — Democrat or Republican — has much interest in adhering to this measure of fiscal conservatism:
When McGovern and Reps. David R. Obey (D-Wis.) and John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) suggested a 2 percent surcharge for middle-income taxpayers and up to 15 percent for the wealthiest four years ago, even the House Democratic leadership did not support them. Some Republicans accused them of using the taxes to generate opposition to the wars.
In 2009, when President Obama proposed his surge of 30,000 troops for Afghanistan and Obey again proposed a surtax, “it got no traction,” McGovern said. McGovern said he recently brought it up in a Democratic Caucus session with the president but “did not get a direct answer.” […]
Asked about a war tax, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, responded that the questioner “can always send in more to the Treasury if you like, and I would encourage you to do that if you feel that way.” McGovern called that answer “flippant on a serious issue.”
It’s worthless answers like McKeon’s that make it mighty hard for me to take the Republican party’s newfound adoration of fiscal austerity particularly hard to take seriously. When it comes to taxes, the Democrats sure as hell aren’t going to raise ’em; they’ve been beaten into submission on the issue of taxes for far too long to seriously turn back now.
Of course, the political calculus on this one is hardly arcane — no party wants to be the bad guys who raised taxes. But when is the political culture in this country going to grow up and realize that if you’re going to go around using all those fancy toys of mass destruction you said you needed so badly, you’re going to have at least chip-in when it’s time to pay-up.
(x-posted to Flower & Thistle)