Saturday, November 21, 2009

Down with the Warfare State!

Why should warfare-for-all be off-budget if Medicare-for-All isn't?
Senior House Democrats have introduced legislation that would impose a surtax beginning in 2011 to cover the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bill was unveiled late Thursday by David R. Obey of Wisconsin, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and has the backing of John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and John B. Larson of Connecticut, chairman of the Democratic Caucus.

The three lawmakers said in a joint statement:
For the last year, as we've struggled to pass health care reform, we've been told that we have to pay for the bill -- and the cost over the next decade will be about a trillion dollars.

Now the president is being asked to consider an enlarged counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan, which proponents tell us will take at least a decade and would also cost about a trillion dollars. But unlike the health care bill, that would not be paid for. We believe that's wrong.

The only people who've paid any price for our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are our military families. We believe that if this war is to be fought, it's only fair that everyone share the burden
Discussing the idea earlier this month, Murtha said he knew the bill would not be enacted and that advocates of a surtax were simply trying to send a message about the moral obligation to pay for the wars.

The bill would require the president to set the surtax so that it fully pays for the previous year's war cost. But it would allow for a one-year delay in the implementation of the tax if the president determines that the economy is too weak to sustain that kind of tax change. It also would exempt military members who have served in combat since Sept. 11, 2001, along with their families, and the families of soldiers killed in combat.


  1. Bill Maher observed a few years ago that U.S. citizens were all gung-ho about wars but unwilling to make even the smallest sacrifices the way people made personal sacrifices during WW2. Murtha's bill drove home that point. Good play.

  2. It seems to me the loudest advocates for war are always the ones not on the front lines!Wars should be the last choice our leadership should make,and when that decison is made their friends and advocates should be the first to go to the front lines.With rules of engagment like that there would be very few wars.

  3. BRAVO, Vigilante! It is infuriating to think we are the arms merchant for the world and have billions and billions to invest in continual and unnecessary war and corporate welfare for big banks and huge corporate pirates, but can't provide universal medical care and adequate housung and nutrition to ALL of our citizens! We already know North Korea's Kim Jong Il is insane. What's OUR excuse for being so high up on the military expenditures chart?

    President Eisenhower, who warned us about the military/industrial complex, is spinning in his grave at the speed of light!

  4. @BigMacInPittsburgh:
    You raise a very good point. Unfortunately, wars are almost always mainly fought by the young, poor, and minorities for the profit and benefit of mainly wealthy and white old men.



  7. Vigil is bringing up talk about a tax to pay for our wars, Stimpson is talking about Americans making sacrifices, Big Mac mentioned war advocates actually fighting in them, and Jack is bringing up commonsense points about American hypocrisy. All these radical ideas are freaking me out y'all.

  8. From Reality Zone's link:

    The announced 2010 military budget of $680 billion is really only about half of the annual cost of U.S. military expenditures.

    These expenditures are so large that there is a concerted effort to hide many military expenses in other budget items. The War Resisters League annual analysis listed the real 2009 U.S. military expenses at $1,449 billion, not the official budget of $651 billion. Wikipedia, citing several different sources, came up with a total military budget of $1,144 billion. Regardless of who is counting, it is beyond dispute that the military budget actually exceeds $1 trillion a year.

    The National Priorities Project, the Center for Defense Information and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation analyze and expose many hidden military expenses tucked into other parts of the total U.S. budget.

    For example, veterans' benefits totaling $91 billion are not included in the Pentagon budget. Military pensions totaling $48 billion are stuck into the Treasury Department budget. The Energy Department hides $18 billion in nuclear weapons programs in its budget. The $38 billion financing of foreign arms sales is included in the State Department budget. One of the largest hidden items is the interest on debt incurred in past wars, which totals between $237 billion and $390 billion. This is really an endless subsidy to the banks, which are intimately linked to the military industries.

    Every part of these bloated budgets is expected to grow by 5 to 10 percent a year, while federal funding to states and cities is shrinking by 10 to 15 percent annually, leading to deficit crises.

    According to the Office of Management and Budget, 55 percent of the total 2010 U.S. budget will go to the military. More than half! Meanwhile, federal block grants to states and cities for vital human services--schools, teacher training, home-care programs, school lunches, basic infrastructure maintenance for drinking water, sewage treatment, bridges, tunnels and roads--are shrinking.

  9. If we are going to have wars then we need to pay for them. This silly tax cut nonsense is a Republican boondoggle and they are now out of power, or have the Democrats noticed?

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  11. Vig... great point. Jack / Mac are right... WHO fights the wars? WHO pays the most?
    and Vig...
    Happy Turkey Day...
    I keep in mind all I have to cherish... a good read is included.

  12. USA 711 billion; Canada - a neighbour - 15 billion. I mean, I'm all for military power, but it seems to me the U.S. can cut that down a tad and still be the mightiest chick on the block.

  13. Historian Julian E. Zelizer points out that extended wars define presidencies:

    .... war sucks the political oxygen out of almost any presidency. There have been several modern presidents who started their term with an ambitious domestic vision and who ended up with their presidencies totally consumed by war.

    .....When he returned to the White House after the election, Truman fought for an ambitious domestic agenda in 1949 and 1950, which he called the Fair Deal, which included national health care, civil rights, fair housing and more ..... it was the Korean War, which began in the summer of 1950, that brought down his presidency.

    Something I was not aware of, of course. Before I became politically conscious - that would be my alibi. I would argue that the Korean War was a necessary war, FWIW. But the lesson is there from which we should take additional instruction.