14 December 2009

Since everyone's talking about a War Tax...

Particularly in this time of massive national debt, some US lawmakers, such as David Obey (D-WI), have proposed a "war tax" to fund the nearly-trillion dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Economist weighs in on the issue with Spencer Ackerman:

THERE are a lot of schools of thought on what the lessons of Vietnam were. Some people think the lesson is that America should learn how to fight counterinsurgency wars. Some think the lesson is that America should intervene in other countries only with clear goals, and employing overwhelming force. A few misguided people think America could have won the war if it had shown greater resolve. Other more sensible people think the lesson is that letting yourself be drawn ever deeper into a stalemate merely because you have committed your prestige is foolhardy. And so on. But one thing literally everyone agrees Vietnam showed, from flaming liberals to fire-breathing neocons, is that it's a very bad idea to get involved in a long, grueling, expensive war without explaining to the American people how much they will have to sacrifice, and securing their support.

The "Share Our Sacrifice Act", the proposal by David Obey, a Democratic representative from Wisconsin, to institute a "war tax" to fund America's war in Afghanistan, is a bill that probably should have been passed eight years ago. The Bush administration's decision not to increase taxes to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was likely taken with the view that hiding the costs would increase public support. In fact, it undermined it. As Spencer Ackerman writes,

Yoking the war to the public in whose name it is waged will allow for a healthy public pressure to be placed on the Obama administration. Anyone who has covered the military during the past eight years—and especially those of us who’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan—has heard endlessly the military lament that only a select and small proportion of the country is actually at war. The war tax ends all that. I won’t be revealing any confidences when I say that one military listserv I’m on is mightily impressed by the idea for that reason. You want to support the troops, right?

Somehow, I don't see it actually passing, even if we did try one of our tried-and-true public service announcements. (Attention, AFN, if you're just going to show PSAs and propaganda, at least make it entertaining like this)

Donald: It's my dough!

Scrooge: Aye, laddie, it's your dough. But it's your war, too.

I can't believe it takes Disney to speak common sense...


Boss Mongo said...

"A few misguided people think America could have won the war if it had shown greater resolve."
Oh, you mean like Vo Nguyen Giap?

Starbuck said...


I might post that as a comment at The Economist :)