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[Kirk Stark, guest-blogging, June 2, 2008 at 8:56am] Trackbacks
War and Taxes

Many thanks to Eugene for allowing us to guest blog here on the Volokh Conspiracy. As mentioned in Eugene's post last week, we have a new book out (co-authored with Joe Thorndike) titled "War and Taxes," published by the Urban Institute Press in Washington, DC. We wanted to use this first post to provide a little context of why we wrote this book and what it's about.

As you probably know, the start of the war in Iraq corresponded roughly with the enactment of the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief and Reconciliation Act of 2003. The war started in March '03 and President Bush signed JGTRRA into law two months later. The coincident timing of these two events prompted a flurry of op-eds on the propriety of cutting taxes during a time of war. For example, as David Rosenbaum noted in the New York Times, "in his determination to cut taxes even while waging war in Iraq, President Bush is bucking history." Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Ron Brownstein noted that "we have always accepted heavier burdens as the price those at home pay to support those under fire on the front." More recently, New York Times columnist Frank Rich has observed that "since 9/11, our government has asked no sacrifice of civilians other than longer waits at airplane security. We've even been rewarded with a prize that past generations would have found as jaw-dropping as space travel: a wartime dividend in the form of tax cuts."

The basic objective of our book is to evaluate the historical claims implicit in these comments. Is it in fact true that "President Bush is bucking history" and that "we have always accepted heavier burdens as the price those at home pay to support those under fire on the front?" Unafraid to make bold, daring historical claims, our answer is… yes and no. As we see it, there are (at least) two ways of framing the history of American tax policy during wartime.

Frame #1: The Bush tax cuts mark an abrupt departure from our patriotic tradition of raising taxes during wartime. Those who subscribe to this perspective seem to have in mind the experience of World War II and, to a lesser extent, World War I and the Korea war. In each of these conflicts, the country "rallied 'round the flag" and embraced all sorts of homefront sacrifice, including extraordinary levels of taxes, to support the troops and the country's war effort.

Frame #2: The Bush tax cuts are simply the most recent and most extreme manifestation of an equally strong American tradition of reluctance, resistance and opposition to wartime tax burdens. Support for this perspective comes from a close examination of U.S. fiscal policy during the War of 1812, the Civil War and the war in Vietnam. In each these wars, political leaders for one reason or another had little interest in asking the public to bear greater tax burdens in order to finance the war effort, although in each of the wars new taxes were eventually imposed.

Over the next several days, we'll have more to say about each of these conflicts, as well as a variety of related tax policy controversies. We just wanted to use this post to introduce the book and give some background about our motivation for the project. We should be clear up front that we don't see the whole of U.S. history as some sort of perfect natural experiment from which we can draw strong inferences regarding the determinants of wartime tax policy. Obviously the world is a different place today than it was in 1812, 1942 or 1968 and there are many differences between the current conflict and prior wars. Nevertheless, we think there's enormous value in using history as a vehicle for discussing current policy issues. We look forward to hearing your feedback.

Kirk Stark

Justin (mail):
If the only 20th century support for your proposition is the War in Vietnam, you aren't going to get a lot of support for your proposition, at least in terms of whether #2 is an indication of reasonable policy.

Given that pre-20th century war - prior to the tank, the rocket, and the aircraft - was fought much more substantially witn bodies and small arms, how the civil war and the war of 1812 were financed seems of minor relevance.

When you say "obviously the world is a different place than it was in 1812, 1942 or 1968" - you are going to have to explain why the relevant differences between today and 1942 and 1968 are as significant the obvious relevant differences between today and 1812.

This already seems more like an argument of convenience and of rhetoric than one of serious research. Hopefully something stronger will come in the next few posts.
6.2.2008 10:12am
Justin (mail):
NB - I think my first post came on a little strong, and for that I apologize. But I am interested in hearing why

a) we shouldn't consider the wars of 1812 and the civil war of minimal relevance given both the different types of funding (rationing, war bonds, etc) as well as the clearly different needs of the military.

b) we shouldn't consider vietnam an unmitigated failure both as a matter of foreign policy and for its effect on the economy.

There are clearly obvious differences between WWI, WWII and Korea, on one hand, and today on the other hand, as well. And this war is being fought on "the cheap" for reasons quite different from all previous wars (mainly, the complete lack of public support in the mission). But those first two points did stand out to me substantially while reading your opening post.
6.2.2008 10:19am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
You seem to missing the point that it was not that Bush refused to raise taxes to pay for the war--he actually cut them, when the budget was already in deficit. That is truly unprecedented.

Of course he gave up golf in solidarity with the troops, so I guess that made up for it.
6.2.2008 10:37am
CCM:
Quoting the three most liberal entertainers in the mainstream media already starts out this debate with a specific premise and point of view. Please, lets not call these people journalists.

The point of view of course is that all wars are evil, terrorism is an excuse for Bush to steal executive power, and that Republicans lied to the people about going to war and therefore did not have proper consent to do so.

The secondary premise is that had the Bush administrative asked for a 'sacrifice' from the American people via taxation or a draft - the country would not have gone to war and the people would not have given their collective consent to this conflict.

With that said...


Frame #1 - Considering nearly all the wars of the 20th century were started/executed/managed with Democrats in the White House - is it really a surprise that raising taxes was always the first card to get played with the people?

Frame #2 - Perhaps the easiest explanation of the differences in taxation is the simple difference in leadership/party world view. Republicn presidents do not raise taxes in their wartimes - Reagan (Cold War, Beirut, Libya, Nicaruaga, Grenada). Bush 41 (Panama, Iraq 1). Bush 43 (Afghanistan and Iraq 2). Funny - the war of 1812 was also managed by a Republican president James Madison (though its no relation to modern Republicnas).
6.2.2008 10:44am
Forsooth And:
Would you address inflation and war in addition to taxes? Many of the wars cited have coincided with, or been immediately followed by, substantial inflation. This is increasingly relevant today.
6.2.2008 11:02am
Uthaw:
Eh, the point is moot. Whatever Bush did - raise taxes or cut them - the Loony Left would have denounced him as evil and incompetent.
6.2.2008 11:12am
Uthaw:
Republicn presidents do not raise taxes in their wartimes - Reagan (Cold War, Beirut, Libya, Nicaruaga, Grenada). Bush 41 (Panama, Iraq 1).

Under Reagan, we were not at war. Minor uses of force like Libya and Grenada did not require raising taxes.

Bush 41 did raise taxes in the run up to the Gulf War.
6.2.2008 11:19am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

Now if you define libertarianism as isolationism plus gay marriage, then maybe this is a libertarian moment.


"Isolationism plus gay marriage" doesn't sound quite as inspiring as "free markets and free minds" but somehow it seems a more appropriate motto for Reason magazine under the tutelage of Nick Gillespie who began his editorship with the goal of moving away from the sort of free market economic issues that Reason excels at and focusing more on pushing libertine social policies to attract a more left-leaning readership.
6.2.2008 11:23am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Sorry wrong thread.
6.2.2008 11:44am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It would be useful to separate the argument that taxes, up or down duringn wartime, have a beneficial effect from the argument that we should all sacrifice and the economic effect is secondary.

Earlier wars were fought with amazingly limited material costs. However, when you consider that a musket barrel, or a cannon, or a bayonet, or a railroad track began in a hole in the ground with some poor chumps equipped with candles and picks, the proportion of the federal budget, or of GDP is not necessarily minimal.

In 1976, Time Magazine published a bicentennial edition, as if they were actually publishing in 1776. I wish I could find it. In it they recounted the amount of steel or iron produced in Europe that year. Astonishingly small. Compared to, say, the amount of steel and iron afloat in warships.... Hard to imagine anybody had enough left over for a knife and fork.
6.2.2008 12:00pm
Tom S (mail):
Perhaps the decision whether or not to raise taxes in a war has more to do with how united the President perceives the populace to be in support of the war. The War of 1812 was controversial with major proportions of the United States; the Civil War is the paradigm of a divided nation (although ignorance of the true costs of a large "modern" war also played a role); and the country was not as united behind Vietnam (in the absence of a true overt act by Norht Vietnam) as with its predecessors.
6.2.2008 12:13pm
AnonLawStudent:
Agree with Richard Aubrey. The most relevant frame is the percentage of GDP required to maintain the war effort, not whether taxes should be "patriotically" and reflexively raised during war time. According to the CBO (PDF) , total spending in both Iraq and Afghanistan from September 2001 and the close of FY 2007 totaled $602B. For comparison, GDP in those years ranged from $10.1T to $13.8T. Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis (Excel Spreadsheet). Total GWOT spending over the entire six year period totals less than 6% of GDP for a single year, and is less than 1% annually. For reference, total defense spending during the Korean War (1950-53) averaged 11% of GDP, during the Vietnam War (1962-73) averaged 8% of GDP, and during the Regan defense buildup (1982-86) averaged 6%. In FY2007, total defense spending accounted for 4% of GDP. Source: CBO.
6.2.2008 12:33pm
ChrisIowa (mail):
If a domestic sacrifice is needed in wartime, increasing taxes is not the only way to achieve it. Domestic spending could also be reduced to contribute to the war effort. That approach may have been tried in WWI and WWII, but the reverse was the case during the Viet Nam War. I don't think War and Taxes should be discussed in isolation from War and Domestic spending.
6.2.2008 12:52pm
William Dalasio (mail):
You folks do realize that we were facing a particuluarly harsh set of economic conditions at the time, don't you? Remember all that stuff about the internet bubble popping, guys? The wave of financial scandals? The record surge in corporate bankruptcies? Somehow or another, I'm a little inclined to think raising taxes under such conditions in the name of a symbolic show of "unity and sacrifice" would be kind of a surefire recipe to turn a recession into a depression.
6.2.2008 12:53pm
Bart (mail):
AnonLawStudent:


Agree with Richard Aubrey. The most relevant frame is the percentage of GDP required to maintain the war effort, not whether taxes should be "patriotically" and reflexively raised during war time. According to the CBO (PDF) , total spending in both Iraq and Afghanistan from September 2001 and the close of FY 2007 totaled $602B. For comparison, GDP in those years ranged from $10.1T to $13.8T. Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis (Excel Spreadsheet). Total GWOT spending over the entire six year period totals less than 6% of GDP for a single year, and is less than 1% annually. For reference, total defense spending during the Korean War (1950-53) averaged 11% of GDP, during the Vietnam War (1962-73) averaged 8% of GDP, and during the Regan defense buildup (1982-86) averaged 6%. In FY2007, total defense spending accounted for 4% of GDP. Source: CBO.

I would add that the increase in tax revenues from lowering the marginal tax rates in 2003 more than paid for the GWOT.

The Unite States is in an unparalleled place in human history where it can project military power across the world and change the governments in two countries (both of which have caused prior invaders fits) with a comparative handful of troops paid for out of pocket change from the increase in our wealth.
6.2.2008 1:05pm
Malvolio:
I had always taken the expression "War is the health of the State" to be either a criticism of war or a criticism of the State; I never realized it was policy advice.

The Times is already saying "We're at war, let's raise taxes." We can only hope they won't make the logical leap and say "We want to raise taxes, let's go to war."

Why is it whenever anyone calls for "sacrifice", it's always to do something they wanted to do anyway. How about we sacrifice minimum wage, farm subsidies, earmarks, drug prohibition, and all those other expensive luxuries that I don't like? After all, we're at war.
6.2.2008 1:07pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Malvolio.

Wrt "let's go to war", you'll have noted that we are fighting a number of wars which do not include loud noises, smoke, dust, and drill sergeants. Each of them require sacrifice--including more taxes--from us. So the likelihood of the NYT doing as you say in probably not as remote as we would like to think.
6.2.2008 1:18pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I would add that the increase in tax revenues from lowering the marginal tax rates in 2003 more than paid for the GWOT.

Except of course nobody, except extremely dishonest supply-siders, claims that the tax cuts paid for themselves. We are paying for this war (and more) with borrowed money.

If we were running a budget surplus, your argument might have some credence. It of course does not.

The Unite States is in an unparalleled place in human history where it can project military power across the world and change the governments in two countries (both of which have caused prior invaders fits) with a comparative handful of troops paid for out of pocket change from the increase in our wealth.

Even if this were true, which it is not, it is hardly unprecedented. The British were able to do it with a relatively small standing army but a large Navy during their colonial era.
6.2.2008 1:25pm
Happyshooter:
Even if this were true, which it is not, it is hardly unprecedented. The British were able to do it with a relatively small standing army but a large Navy during their colonial era.

With private military companies doing most of the take over work.
6.2.2008 1:34pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J.F. But with the Brits it wasn't pocket change.
The taxation which annoyed the colonists was the result of the enormous expense of the Seven Years War, whose North American venue was called the French and Indian War.
Had it been pocket change, the tax issue would not have arisen, which would have meant....

And the Brits picked up parts of their Empire in that scrimmage, including improving their strategic position in India, leading to taking the place over altogether a hundred years later.
6.2.2008 1:37pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
J.F. But with the Brits it wasn't pocket change.

I was thinking more of the later colonial period, the nineteenth century, when Britain became the preeminant colonial power. During the eighteenth century it was struggling to establish itself as the dominant power against the French and still powerful, but rapidly fading, Spanish.
6.2.2008 1:48pm
jb9054 (mail):
Supply siders often claim that tax cuts invariably result in increased revenue to the government. Did that not in fact occur after the Bush tax cut? (I realize that post hoc = propter hoc).
6.2.2008 2:08pm
jb9054 (mail):
Trying tjo say "does not equal." Sorry.
6.2.2008 2:09pm
ithaqua (mail):
"Supply siders often claim that tax cuts invariably result in increased revenue to the government. Did that not in fact occur after the Bush tax cut? (I realize that post hoc = propter hoc)."

One would expect that, all else being equal, each year's tax revenue would be greater than the previous year's, simply because of the natural expansion of the economy, the influx of new 18-year-old taxpayers, etc. The question a supply sider has to answer is not 'did revenue increase' but 'did revenue increase more than it would have had tax rates remained the same'? (Usually, the answer is 'we can't tell' - lowering taxes has a delayed effect on the economy, and the benefits aren't seen for years (and are often impossible to distinguish from other natural fluctuations), even though the loss in tax revenue is immediate.)

"The Times is already saying "We're at war, let's raise taxes." We can only hope they won't make the logical leap and say "We want to raise taxes, let's go to war." "

Unfortunately for us, we are not involved in a war of choice; Islamofascism is an existential threat even greater than that posed by the Soviet Union (nuclear deterrence is useless against apocalyptic Muslims who prefer death to life). The war must be paid for. Cutting spending is impossible - it was literally impossible back in 2005, when Tom Delay pointed out that there was no fat left to cut out of the federal budget, and although the Democrats have filled the new budget right back up with bloat, it's politically impossible to cut it without a line-item veto. So we either borrow from China, etc, or we raise taxes. And, much as I hate to agree with the Times, we're going to be fighting the Long War for at least as long as we fought the Cold War, and funding the budget via borrowing is impractical. So: taxes. And hopefully the people will rise in revolt and transform the political landscape so that cutting the waste - Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, NEA, NASA, food stamps, etc, etc - out of the federal budget becomes politically feasible.
6.2.2008 2:32pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J.F.
Still, say in 1857 when they shipped thousands of additional troops to India to deal with the Mutiny and take over from John Company. Huge expense. Still very difficult to get iron and steel--mines less primitive but still not particularly impressive, whether it was iron or coal--had deforested itself of big oak for sailing ships, whether conventional or ironclad and had to buy it abroad. Not sure about the GDP, however. Or if it could even be measured for that era. It would be unlikely, imo, that the percentage of GDP would have been less than we are currently spending.

The difficulty of coming up with stuff for an army in the old days is exemplified after Teutoburger Wald, where three Legions were destroyed. Mighty Rome could not come up with the scratch to replace them.
6.2.2008 2:34pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Did that not in fact occur after the Bush tax cut?

No it didn't--If by "revenues increased" you mean the tax cuts paid for themselves by stimulating the economy and raising more money than would have been raised if taxes had stayed at exactly the same rate. At best, the tax cuts only return about 80 cents on the dollar to the treasury. Even if economic growth had been a little less without the tax cuts (a unprovable proposition to begin with), the higher tax rates would have still meant higher revenues to the government than they got with the tax cut.
6.2.2008 2:36pm
AnonLawStudent:

RA: But with the Brits it wasn't pocket change.

JFT: I was thinking more of the later colonial period, the nineteenth century, when Britain became the preeminant colonial power.


The British campaign most frequently analogized to the Iraq War is the Second Boer War (1899-1902), in which roughly 250,000 Commonwealth troops were deployed to South Africa. During this period, British real military expenditures increased approximately 2.5 times. See Jari Eloranta, "From the great illusion to the Great War: Military spending behaviour of the Great Powers, 1870--1913," 11 European Review of Economic History 255, Figure 1 (2007). Translated to the present-day United States, equivalent expenditures would be roughly 10% of GDP, i.e., over $1T/yr. Hardly what I would call "pocket change." The U.S. is, indeed, different.
6.2.2008 2:59pm
CCM:

Bush 41 did raise taxes in the run up to the Gulf War.


Fair enough! A move that 'arguably' might have cost him the election in 92. That lesson probably heavily influences suceeding Presidents. I'm actually curious, did Clinton raise taxes for Kosovo?



Under Reagan, we were not at war. Minor uses of force like Libya and Grenada did not require raising taxes.


True. But the Cold War was certainly treated as a war - though perhaps not always a shooting one. Defense spending was greatly increased once Carter was defeated - but is that spending largely different than present day in terms of percentage of GDP?

The second part of your statement is really an interesting one as well: "did not require raising taxes". Does our current conflict really require raising taxes as well? Today's governemnt is far more effective at collecting revenues than it ever has been in the past.



Why is it whenever anyone calls for "sacrifice", it's always to do something they wanted to do anyway. How about we sacrifice minimum wage, farm subsidies, earmarks, drug prohibition, and all those other expensive luxuries that I don't like? After all, we're at war.


To the question of need - do we 'need to raise taxes' the above statement is indeed extremely poignant. We may only 'need to raise taxes' so most of the people won't have to sacrifice anything at all.

Any increase in taxes should only occur with a proportionate and reciprocal amount of spending decreases with 'bread &butter" services as well. Otherwise, the tax is not really for the war effort at all, but to protect spending growth in favored domestic entitlement programs.

Which is the real priority here?
6.2.2008 3:01pm
deepthought:
Unfortunately for us, we are not involved in a war of choice; Islamofascism is an existential threat even greater than that posed by the Soviet Union


I disagree that "Islamofascism" (or "jihadists" or whatever the slogan de jour is) is an existential threat at all, certainly not as great as the threat posed by the USSR. While they may claim their goal is to is reestablish the Caliphate, does anybody really think they have the means to do so? Bombings in markets, even jetliners into buildings do not threaten our very existence. Ballistic missiles aimed at our political and economic power centers provided a much more direct threat to our existence. In fact, there is evidence that the anti-Western jihad movement is turning onto itself and fracturing.

Calling it "Islamofascism" is just a way to whip up blind anger and has resulted in the extralegal and extrajudicial policies of the Bush Administration, as well as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the long-term success of both is still in doubt.
6.2.2008 3:02pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):

Calling it "Islamofascism" is just a way to whip up blind anger and has resulted in the extralegal and extrajudicial policies of the Bush Administration, as well as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the long-term success of both is still in doubt.


Agreed, it's all an illusion.
6.2.2008 3:25pm
eyesay:
Uthaw wrote, "Whatever Bush did - raise taxes or cut them - the Loony Left would have denounced him as evil and incompetent." Avoiding the rhetorically loaded words loony, evil, and incompetent, let's stick to more neutral words, such as approve and disapprove.

According to the latest Rasmussen Report, the May 2008 Bush Job Approval ratings are 33% approve, 65% disapprove.

Either disapproving of Bush's performance has spread far beyond "the Left," or "the Left" is much larger than Uthaw imagines it to be.
6.2.2008 3:35pm
Uthaw:
eyesay, it is true that no matter what Bush did, the Loony Left would disapprove, but it is also true that he has done many things of which the rest of the population disapproves. The disapproval of the Loony Left was a given, of the rest, not so much.
6.2.2008 3:43pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
deep. Yeah, they're breaking up. And polio's gone which means we never needed any vaccines anyway.

Anonlaw. Thanks for the pointer. I recall reading that during one of Britain's campaigns down there, the Brit commander ended up owning every ox in Cape Colony. Among other things. Not a trivial expense when the original owners would not be able to work their farms and so would demand a substantial price.

And considerably later than that, Brits' food was still being produced by farms using draft animals. Agricultural surplus is the foundation of civilization, and armies. When you're using horses, mules, and oxen, the surplus isn't what we see today.
6.2.2008 3:46pm
Jiminy (mail):
Eyesay, I bet he would say that the media was skewing the responses or tilting questions because they have a vested interest in America disapproving of Bush. At least, if I was a 33percenter, I would say that.

The "Loony Left" of the last seven years is spawned from the demeaning and paternistic attitude that Bush constantly foisted on us whenever we would question his judgement. Instead of reason or facts or honest answers to mistakes made, he obfuscated, villified, made ad-hominem attacks, and questioned our patriotism.

His speeches read like something from a McCarthy-era congressional hearing and they have no place in the modern world or in this country. It doesn't help make the case. People didn't have the same BDS when he was first elected or even after the 9-11 attacks.

When he started making so many mis-steps and when the war rationale kept unravelling and they continued to backpedal - that is when the BDS started to show up in people. He would change his statements week to week like we couldn't look it up ourselves, yet had no Memory Hole to delete to old talking points that were proved invalid.
6.2.2008 3:48pm
eyesay:
William Dalasio wrote, “You folks do realize that we were facing a particuluarly harsh set of economic conditions at the time, don't you? ... Somehow or another, I'm a little inclined to think raising taxes under such conditions in the name of a symbolic show of 'unity and sacrifice' would be kind of a surefire recipe to turn a recession into a depression.”

There was surely no need to raise the exclusion on the capital gains rate, and most assuredly no reason to do it in such a strange fashion, ramping up the exclusion from $675,000 to $3.5 million to infinity to zero to $1 million. Remember, every dollar of federal spending has to come from somewhere. Either we borrow it from our children, or we tax families struggling to feed, house, and educate their children, or place a tax on the estates of already-dead millionaires -- estates often consisting largely of never-taxed capital gains. This monkeying with the capital gains tax stands as a shameful monument of Republican class rich-against-everyone-else class warfare.
6.2.2008 3:52pm
Uthaw:
Oh yeah, Jiminy, I totally remember that "honeymoon" period Dubya had where the Loony Left didn't hate him. He was foolish to throw away so much goodwill!
6.2.2008 3:57pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
The "Loony Left" of the last seven years is spawned from the demeaning and paternistic attitude that Bush constantly foisted on us whenever we would question his judgement. Instead of reason or facts or honest answers to mistakes made, he obfuscated, villified, made ad-hominem attacks, and questioned our patriotism.


Please give us one example where President Bush has "questioned [y]our patriotism."
6.2.2008 4:04pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
There are various conservative blogs which are not at all happy with Bush on matters such as the war--needs to be more aggressive--and immigration.
So to hear that a certain number of people disapprove doesn't mean they are all anti-war and anti-borders.

In addition, disapproving of Bush's actions might well mean a serious case of cluelessness. I have friends and relations who, when discussing the role of government, not solely about Bush, remind one of the spoiled teenager.

"I hate you, hate you! Take Brittany and me to the mall!"

It would be different if they were not lying or misled as to the facts when they argue.
6.2.2008 4:11pm
J. Aldridge:
Generally executive branch sponsored war has been nothing but assisting some other nation in some sort of internal struggle or conflict with another nation rather than committing to a war against "armed invasion" upon American soil.

To refer to a "war tax" as a result of Iraq would be like referring a well planned and very intentional mass murder as an unintentional accident.

Call it "despotic tax" instead.
6.2.2008 4:14pm
byomtov (mail):
Unfortunately for us, we are not involved in a war of choice; Islamofascism is an existential threat even greater than that posed by the Soviet Union.

How many ICBM's have the "Islamofascists?"
6.2.2008 4:46pm
eyesay:
Thorley Winston wrote, "Please give us one example where President Bush has 'questioned [y]our patriotism.'"

Questioning the patriotism of those who disagree with him is standard operating procedure of President Bush and his colleagues.

Every time congressional leaders propose tying emergency supplemental funds for the Iraq war to a timetable to end this war, Mr. Bush and his spokesmen demand to know why these legislators don't support our troops.

Although Mr. Bush's false logic of "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists" was originally applied to foreign nations, this same false logic is continually applied to domestic critics of the Bush administration.
6.2.2008 4:50pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Well, eye, defunding the troops is hardly supporting them, now, is it?

That's a looong stretch to questioning patriotism. Which ought to be legit, considering how many other virtues of Bush, and conservatives are regularly questioned by liberals.

Why is your patriotism off limits?
6.2.2008 4:54pm
Adam J:
Thorley Wilson- Of right, it's not liberal's patriotism that has been questioned, it's their judgment... I love that line, and how it rings of insincerity everytime I hear it. Of course, patriotism for most Americans these days revolves around singing "Born in the USA" loudly at bars, wearing an American flag pin, saying frequently how much you love the USA, and not having the audacity to question anything the government does in the name of the war on terrorism.
6.2.2008 4:59pm
Adam J:
Richard Aubrey - Defunding the troops is only not supporting them because of the threat of Bush leaving them out in the field without adequate supplies. Otherwise, defunding the troops would force Bush to pull the troops out of harms way, which certainly seems supportive to me. (That's not to say I'm against staying in Iraq until its stabilized, I think we created the clusterf@$k, now we're obligated to fix it for the Iraqi people's sake).
6.2.2008 5:05pm
r.friedman (mail):
The US has a history of being anti-tax, and it doesn't take much demagoging to get that spirit stirring. The question is, how willing is the government to go into debt or inflation?

The War of 1812 is indeed relevant, even the Revolution. During the Revolution, they printed (ain't worth a) Continentals and let the Army freeze. In 1812, they didn't raise taxes; the Army and Navy were grossly undersupplied; they issued bonds and notes which were so devalued, the banks had to stop giving specie for them, and the 2nd Bank of the United States was created to bring the debt back under control. In the Civil War, they issued Greenbacks and Confederate money -- only one could survive.

When looking at Vietnam and Iraq, it is important to look at both debt and inflation. Johnson's insistence on "guns and butter" increased both to the point that Nixon took the US off the gold standard -- the arbitrageurs were cleaning up. Today we see the dollar declining, purchases of oil and minerals on the international market thereby costing more, and inflationary pressure mounting -- the arbitrageurs were cleaning up, and the Fed had to bail them out as soon as it tried to address inflation.

The weirdest thing is, the generals had already realized that military goods prices had climbed so high that they couldn't afford to buy them, especially given that a $1,000 shoulder-borne missle can take out a $2 billion fighter plane, or a $500 motorboat take out at $12 billion frigate. Even the lifetime cost of a US infantryman who could be taken out by an unemployed teenager with an Enfield rifle got so high as to justify investments in armored humvees and helicopter transports. Then we began outsourcing the infantry to El Salvador and former Soviet Union countries, as well as importing Mexicans and other Latin Americans to fight in return for citizenship.

At any rate, the only way this is going to get paid is by raising taxes, and the only way this won't be paid by us in the US is if they raise the corporate tax rates (since the world owns our coporations, at least as long as we don't tax them). Now that China has to spend its US dollars to rebuild, our US dollars are going to have to compete with theirs. So we get reduced real GNP, inflation and increased taxes at the same time. And Barack and Hillary have been fighting for a year to preside over this?
6.2.2008 5:42pm
ithaqua (mail):
"How many ICBM's have the "Islamofascists?""

None. I say that with confidence, because if the Islamofascists had even one nuclear weapon, they would use it immediately on either the United States or Israel. (Unlike the Soviet Union, whose leadership was evil but sane, and didn't want to see their people annihilated in nuclear war any more than the United States did.)
6.2.2008 5:47pm
gray (mail):
Reagan raised expenditures in the cold war - indeed one can hardly talk about the cold war without a conservative raising that point - he just didn't raise taxes to pay for it. So he "borrowed" to fight the war and then didn't repay. The consequence was the US debt and deficit increased. A record conservatives are not so eager to mention in debate.
6.2.2008 6:08pm
eyesay:
Is there a term for proving someone's point by making the exact type argument that establishes the point? For example, if I say, "Please don't scream at me," and you reply "I AM NOT SCREAMING AT YOU!!!", you're proving my point.

Well, whatever it's called, Richard Aubrey just did it. I said: "... congressional leaders propose tying emergency supplemental funds for the Iraq war to a timetable to end this war ..." -- which of course means, "here's money to bring the troops home safely" -- and Richard Aubrey transmogrified my words into "defunding the troops" -- which he said "is hardly supporting them."

Richard Aubrey, this is the sort of rhetorical distortion we get from the Bush administration, from many congressional Republicans, and many pundits. It is an utter distortion to equate "... congressional leaders propose tying emergency supplemental funds for the Iraq war to a timetable to end this war ..." with "defunding the troops" -- and it is an implicit challenge of the speaker's patriotism to suggest that this "is hardly supporting them."

Richard Aubrey, thank you for proving my point.
6.2.2008 6:09pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Questioning the patriotism of those who disagree with him is standard operating procedure of President Bush and his colleagues.


Then give me one concrete example where President Bush has done just that. A full quote in its full context in his own words.

He's been President for over seven years and if this is really part of his "standard operating procedure," then it shouldn't be hard for you to do just that.

If you can't, I'll give you this opportunity to retract your earlier comment with no questions asked.
6.2.2008 6:14pm
Aleks:
Re: You folks do realize that we were facing a particuluarly harsh set of economic conditions at the time, don't you?

And what about the particularly harsh set of circumstancse the country faced in the 1930s? Yet the American war effort, high taxes, economic planning and all, are usually credited with pulling the nation out of the Depression by those who pan the New Deal.
6.2.2008 6:25pm
William Dalasio (mail):
eyesay,

I'm not quite clear I'm following your argument. Regardless of whether the changes to the estate tax were poorly structured (an artifact more of political comprimise than design), the fact that the economy was moving into a recession called for a more stimulative, rather than more restrictive fiscal policy. The tax cuts clearly met that criterion. Raising taxes would have worsened the recession.
6.2.2008 6:44pm
William Dalasio (mail):
Yet the American war effort, high taxes, economic planning and all, are usually credited with pulling the nation out of the Depression by those who pan the New Deal.


Actually, those who pan the New Deal argue specifically that its policies did nothing to take the economy out of the depression. That is what panning a policy means. But, economists most certainly do not credit higher tax rates with the recovery. Keynes himself (whose economic theories were used to justify the New Deal) ridiculed the Roosevelt administration as "economically illiterate" in part for raising taxes while trying to enact an economic recovery, as the tax increases undermined the stimualtive effects of higher government spending.
6.2.2008 6:51pm
eyesay:
Bush's statement in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, "You are with us, or you are with the terrorists," implicitly suggests a lack of patriotism on the part of anyone challenging Mr. Bush, his Administration, and his "war" on "terror."

It should be noted that Mr. Bush has held press conferences at a rate less than half of any other president in the past 60 years; many of the statements attacking others' patriotism are uttered by the operator of the Bush marionette -- Dick Cheney.
6.2.2008 6:58pm
eyesay:
I hold President Bush responsible for not stopping the lies of the Swift Boat Liars who lied about John Kerry and attacked his patriotism.
6.2.2008 7:01pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Bush's statement in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, "You are with us, or you are with the terrorists," implicitly suggests a lack of patriotism on the part of anyone challenging Mr. Bush, his Administration, and his "war" on "terror."


There was a reason I asked for you to provide a full quote in the full context. Here was the actual quote from President Bush's speech:


Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.


It's pretty clear that the line "[e]ither you are with us, or you are with the terrorists" was directed at "nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism" as evidenced by the fact that he followed it by saying "any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." Which makes it impossible to read that statement as a slam against the patriotism of his critics at home when it was rather clearly and unambiguously directed at the governments of other nations.

I'll give you another chance to come up with a concrete example of Bush attacking the patriotism of his critics or to retract your statement.
6.2.2008 7:39pm
Uthaw:
Questioning the patriotism of those who disagree with him is standard operating procedure of President Bush and his colleagues.

The truthiness of this is so much more important than the truth!
6.2.2008 8:19pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Eye. Actually, the Swifties told the truth, and when Kerry is wintersoldiering all over the place and meeting with our enemies, his patriotism is worth questioning.

Here and on other boards, there have been arguments about whether the war in Iraq is worse than peace in terms of casualties. Some times it is, sometimes it isn't. Depends on cherrypicking the dates in the last twenty-five years. IMO, a war whose casualties can't be told from peacetime isn't that catastrophic, not to mention that bringing the guys back isn't pulling them out of harm's way.

Some have said, and I three-quarters agree, that the primary reason to cede Iraq to the terrorists is to make sure Bush's legacy is damned forever. War, peace, terrorism, failed state.... Nothing matters but rebuking Bush.

I can see it in some of my friends, although a few have said, with gritted teeth, that we can't leave now. I do think, though, that they'd prefer a catastrophe so bad that a good case can be made for leaving.

But as a strategic matter, giving Iraq away to the bad guys is baggage they don't want. I mean, the liberals' strategic judgment is that, bad as Bush winning in Iraq is, being seen as enabling defeat is baggage they don't want.

I don't see much in the way of actual judgment.
6.2.2008 8:42pm
Gaius Marius:
And what about the particularly harsh set of circumstancse the country faced in the 1930s? Yet the American war effort, high taxes, economic planning and all, are usually credited with pulling the nation out of the Depression by those who pan the New Deal.

Actually, WW2 was good for the US economy because the end result was that our industrial competitors were either completely destroyed (eg. Germany and Japan) or completely removed from the global economy (eg. Soviet Union). The New Deal had nothing to do with recovering the US economy.
6.2.2008 9:15pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
GM. Some say that the ND prolonged and deepened it. I wouldn't know, but the idea that Somebody was Doing Something probably had its own value. Which might have been a good thing even if shown afterwards to have had a net negative effect.
6.2.2008 10:13pm
eyesay:
If there had been no new deal, there would have been a socialist revolution. FDR saved capitalism in the United States.

I know perfectly well that Bush's false logic of "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists" was originally applied to foreign nations; I said so on my first mention. But that rhetoric has been used ever since to question the patriotism of anyone challenging the Bush administration on anything relating to its conduct of this insane war in Iraq.

Swift Boat Liars (SBL): Of those who served in Kerry's boat crew, only one, Stephen Gardner, joined SBL. He was not present on any of the occasions when Kerry won his medals, including his Purple Hearts. All other living members of Kerry's crew supported his presidential bid, and some frequently campaigned with him as his self-described 'band of brothers'. Kerry crewmembers have disputed some of SBL's various allegations: "totally false" (Drew Whitlow), "garbage" (Gene Thorson), and "a pack of lies" (Del Sandusky).

No members of SBL were aboard Kerry's boat during any of the incidents for which he was decorated. The only member of SBL who was present at the Silver Star incident, Rood's crewmember Larry Clayton Lee, praised Kerry's tactics and stated that he earned his Silver Star; he stated that based on discussions with other SBL members, he came to question whether Kerry deserved other medals for incidents at which he was not present.

Sources: McCain assails attacks on Kerry wartime record; Vets group attacks Kerry; McCain defends Democrat; Kentucky veteran involved in ambush backs Kerry account.
6.3.2008 12:06am
Uthaw:
If there had been no new deal, there would have been a socialist revolution. FDR saved capitalism in the United States.

Even if one accepts this, if the goal was to "save capitalism" he could have done this even more effectively if he hadn't taken measures that increased unemployment and prolonged the Depression. A Better New Deal would have averted socialist revolution even faster and more decisively than the New Deal FDR actually gave America!
6.3.2008 12:32am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I know perfectly well that Bush's false logic of "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists" was originally applied to foreign nations; I said so on my first mention. But that rhetoric has been used ever since to question the patriotism of anyone challenging the Bush administration on anything relating to its conduct of this insane war in Iraq.


And yet when given the chance to provide only a single example of where Bush has "questioned the patriotism" of his critics after seven years of his presidency, the best you could come up with was a line which you admit wasn't applied to his critics but to was clearly directed at nations who sponsored terrorism.

It appears then that it isn't Bush who is the one who "obfuscated, villified, [and] made ad-hominem attacks" either.
6.3.2008 12:51am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
eye. The swifties were not disputing everything Kerry said, and so their location at one time or another is not relevant to what they did dispute.

It is probably true that the swifties' annoyance with Wintersoldier got less press because there was no refutation and because it was worse, far worse.

So, has Kerry signed his 181 yet?
6.3.2008 8:19am
Happyshooter:
Yes, has Kerry signed the SF-181?

Has he explained the timing of his release from his commission?
6.3.2008 9:03am
LM (mail):
Thorley,

If God had intended the POTUS to take the lead in demonizing his political opponents, he wouldn't have created safe Congressional districts. That said, IIRC, during the debate over creating the Homeland Security Administration, Bush accused senators who were arguing for worker protections of not being interested in the security of the American people. I don't have the time to look up the verbatim quote, but you're welcome to correct me if that's wrong.
6.3.2008 6:57pm