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November 20, 2009

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No no no. The Military is not part of the government, as evidenced by the worship of all things military by the tea baggers, and thus no taxes need be raised to support the military. It is self-perpetuating.

I would, ideally, like to see our President make the case for the necessity of the war in Afghanistan -- then point blank ask Congress to pay for it with higher taxes.

But maybe I'm just being idealistic.

And, FWIW, I wouldn't mind it in the least if that meant I had to pay more. This* really shouldn't be an issue.

*by "this", I mean paying for our military, among those who are here supporting its use

I've never understood how people can on one hand, think the government is so incompetent and corrupt it can't manage to write Social Security checks, and think we need huge beuracracies to make sure no "freeloaders" are getting money they don't "deserve", and simultaneously believe that the government and military are perfect and amazing and there's no problem with that same government having the ability to say, lock people up without evidence, start wars, break into houses in the middle of the night, spy on Americans, etc.

It's like a news item from an alternative US, where the discussion about the cost of wars, domestic programs, and their relationship to the budget is not dominated by completely bizarre and illogical shibboleths.

As such I expect the effort to disappear without trace within 24 hours.

Contra Ronald Reagan, defense spending is a budget item.

Perhaps we can at least get Republicans to agree that defense spending under a Democratic administration is a budget item, thus converting the GOP's 100% partisan concerns about budget deficits into a useful counterweight.

Marginally more optimistically, I do think a progressive bump in tax rates is a good idea, and I also think that we have a very short window of opportunity here to (accurately) paint those tax increases as needed in order to rectify the massive hole in the budget that Bush caused. That window is closing as the Democrats (accurately) become seen as responsible for the current situation.

And the war is a nearly ideal hook to hang it on. Most people don't think the wars were a good idea. Most people don't think that now we're in there we should get out in a hurry. (I do, but that's neither here nor there.) So they accept that this was a Bush mistake, an expensive mistake, and they accept the collective need to pay for it because it is perceived as the action of the democracy collectively, and not some small and reviled part of it.

That is not the case for many of the other large-ticket items, unfortunately including healthcare, stimulus, and so on.

But the war is some seriously low-hanging fruit when it comes to revenue-raising. It is frankly amazing and reflective of the idiocy of most public discourse that it's taken this long for anyone to even suggest paying for it with taxes.

Off topic, but related...I saw this story about inadequate care for veterans with PTSD and thought of Hilzoy's and G'kar's old posts about supporting the troops and priorities. Seems to me that we are already underselling the cost of the war by a huge amount at the same time that we are hiding it. Anyone who talks about what we owe to the Iraqis and Afghans should think about what we are doing to our servicepeople as well. This continuous deployment is breaking people and our priorities aren't helping them at all.

I think we need to appreciate that, as with welfare, the government is crowding out individual acts of charity to the war effort. Time to stop government funding and tap this awesome potential for individual action.

The military should be outsourced to private companies, to make it more efficient. Then they should be able to collect service fees from people, instead of raising funds from taxes. Competition will lower costs.

But, but, but, don't you know that the only way to pay for war is to make war on welfare (at least on welfare that is not corporate). Also war pays for themselves (think of all the Iraqi oil) and there must be gold or something in them Afghan hills.

In a country where 'calories you eat on a holiday don't make you fat' is gospel, 'dollars spent on foreign adventures don't add to the deficit' is just a sound axiom of accounting.

You folks need to spice it up a bit...go read IOZ. We are The Empire, and we are on an inevitable course to get what we all say we fear.

there must be gold or something in them Afghan hills.

Poppies! Precious precious poppies. Which we're busy destroying.

and we are on an inevitable course to get what we all say we fear

Back in mid-92 I got my passport and headed off to Japan, where I missed a rather good decade in the US.

I think the erstwhile Perotistas back with their latest populist BS thing have a non-zero chance of getting back into power -- they've certainly got the Fox machine in their corner and the usual well-oiled conservative message machine operating behind the scenes.

It is going to be an interesting 3 years. My passport is expiring in 2012 and it WILL be renewed. The stoopidity in this country is simply staggering.

The increasingly evident sense of urgency for budget reduction is poorly timed, and perhaps irrational

Not only that, the loudest voices for fiscal responsibility are absent during Republican administrations. They were nowhere around to advocate for this oh so vital principle when Bush was throwing deficit bombs like his tax cuts, or the invasion of Iraq.

Respectfully, I would suggest that there's your long term problem, the fiscal scolds are not operating in good faith. They want to break the budget and raid the treasury when the GOP is in power, and then pay for that on the backs of the poor and middle class by screaming about deficits when the democrats have the wheel.

willf, Very astute observation. I wish you had a much louder voice.

Respectfully, I would suggest that there's your long term problem, the fiscal scolds are not operating in good faith.

Equally respectfully, I would say this is true of REPUBLICAN fiscal scolds. The Democratic fiscal scolds are not uniformly hypocritical, and I offer Kent Conrad in evidence. He was pounding the table about Dubya's increases of the national debt years ago. That our national media paid not a lick of attention to him, back then, is not hypocrisy on his part.

I am not offering Conrad as a paragon of fiscal virtue. I am not suggesting that he's smart enough to draw the obvious conclusion: tax rates are too low at the top. But I have watched him on C-Span (and pretty much only on C-Span) since at least 2004 trying to explain, every year, that Dubya's "budget deficit" was not the number to look at -- the annual increase in the debt was. "Supplementals" for Dick and Dubya's Excellent Adventures were not in the budget, but that did not prevent them from adding to the debt.

So Kent Conrad is at least one person who deserves the "fiscal scold" label but not, in my book, the "bad faith" label.

--TP

Wasn't it Cheney who famously observed "deficits don't matter"?

Bad faith, indeed.

One idea may be to tax heavily for this... to the point where military spending no longer contributes to our deficit, but provide a tax exemption for those who are veterans, reservists, active duty, or parents of veterans. Imagine hedge fund managers enlisting so that they could get tax exemptions. Imagine think-tankers racing to enlist prior to their 42nd birthday.

If we moved to make the military pay its own way, then we would complete our transition into a modern version of the Roman Empire. Back then military expeditions were mounted for the specific purpose of bring back more booty than they cost to run. Now I suppose the advance of technology has raised the price of militarism, and modern means like planting IEDs make it pretty tough to self-finance via plunder.

david, the simplified version would be:
If you are in the military, you get payed.
If you are (or were) not*, then you pay.
Would not even require the draft.
(I doubt though that it could pass Congress or survive SCOTUS)

*disabled persons etc. exempted of course.

Respectfully, I would suggest that there's your long term problem, the fiscal scolds are not operating in good faith. They want to break the budget and raid the treasury when the GOP is in power, and then pay for that on the backs of the poor and middle class by screaming about deficits when the democrats have the wheel.

Which is why my suggestion above i/r/t the GOP was only half snark.

Republicans will even oppose American military involvements if they think that doing so is to their partisan advantage (e.g. Kosovo).

I think it's actually possible to get the Republicans to generate some useful (if still ultimately bad-faith) concern about the cost of our wars so long as Obama is in the White House.

I don't, however, think it's possible to get them to support a tax increase of any sort.

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