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[Kirk Stark, guest-blogging, June 3, 2008 at 2:14am] Trackbacks
The Evolution of GOP Attitudes toward Wartime Taxes:

One of the most striking features of the history of U.S. tax policy is the shifting attitude of Republican elites toward wartime taxes. For more than a century -- from the founding of the Republican Party through the war in Vietnam -- Republican leaders consistently supported high wartime taxes. Indeed, support for higher wartime taxes was a defining feature of being a military hawk among the GOP faithful.

Examples abound of GOP support for higher wartime taxes. Abraham Lincoln, the nation's first Republican president, was of course also the first president to sign into law a federal income tax, which took effect in 1862. Not surprisingly, GOP support was also strong for the tax increases enacted during World War I and World War II. For example, Kansas Republican Edward Little , a veteran of the Spanish-American War, took the House floor in 1917 to remind his colleagues that "when you conscripted the youth of this country" you promised "that you would conscript the wealth as well." "Let their dollars die for their country too," Little exclaimed.

In the months following the North Korean invasion of South Korea in 1950, Richard Nixon, campaigning for a seat in the U.S. Senate, signaled his hawkish anti-communist credentials by advocating new and higher taxes. On the stump in California, Nixon called for "an excess-profits tax as well as an increase in the taxes on individuals and corporations." "In wartime," Nixon opined, "there is no excuse or justification for allowing any individual or corporation to increase their profits as a result of war while men are dying on the battlefield."

During the war in Vietnam, the strongest support for Lyndon Johnson's surtax to help pay for the war came from Republican quarters. As one GOP Senator put it in January 1967, "I just don't see how we can be hawks on the war and then vote against taxes to pay for it." When Congress finally took up Johnson's surtax in 1968, Democrats were split but Republicans were nearly unanimous in their support for the wartime tax hike.

This history helps to put John McCain's reversal on the Bush tax cuts into perspective. From 2001 onward, McCain was staunch opponent of the Bush tax cuts, especially the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief and Reconciliation Act of 2003, which was enacted two months into the U.S. war in Iraq. The thrust of McCain's position was that it was simply wrong to cut taxes while the country was at war. Speaking in May 2004, the Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war delivered a passionate declamation on the principles of shared sacrifice:

"My friends, we are at war. Throughout our history, wartime has been a time of sacrifice. At the beginning of the war I said it would be long and difficult, and would require a great deal of sacrifice on everyone's part. But about the only sacrifice taking place is that by the brave men and women fighting to defend and protect the liberties we hold so dear, and that of their families. It is time for others to step up and start sacrificing. What have we sacrificed? Just in the last year we have approved legislation containing billions and billions of dollars in unrequested and unauthorized pork barrel projects, huge tax breaks for the wealthy and, just last week, a corporate tax bill estimated to cost $180 billion, chock full of billions of dollars in tax breaks for wealthy oil and gas companies and other special interests. … That is far and away from sacrifice."

Today, of course, McCain has abandoned this sort of rhetoric in favor of wholehearted support of the Bush tax cuts. McCain's reversal illustrates the enduring political influence of Ronald Reagan (the country's most popular tax-cutting military hawk), as well as that of George W. Bush (the country's least popular tax-cutting military hawk). It is also part of a broader story of the decline of liberal Republicans.

But the question remains: is there any life left in the traditional GOP insistence on higher taxes during times of war? Interestingly, 32 House Republicans voted recently for an expanded G.I. bill that included a new surtax on high-income households, suggesting that, perhaps, the jury is still out.

K. Dackson (mail):
Well, I think anyone who argues about tax policy in time of war should really consider the cost of the war as a percentage of the national budget.

Back in "the good old days" (before the federal government decided its true role was to be a nanny state and provide entitlements, the federal budget was very small (in modern terms). Both WWI &WWII were a significant cost to the nation (my guess this early inthe AM is >60% of the overall budget), and taxes HAD to be raised to be able to afford the undertaking.

Now, look at Iraq. $100 (or even $200) Billion per year is pocket change when considered to the entitlement programs out there.

War has become an incremental expense rather than a real hardship for the treasury.

Imagine what Chavez would be doing if that were the case in his worker's paradise?
6.3.2008 6:32am
PersonFromPorlock:
There's also the point that the Reagan tax cuts arguably showed that lower tax rates can result in higher tax revenues, and vice versa. This may have taught the Republicans something.
6.3.2008 7:31am
K. Dackson (mail):
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the interest on the national debt is costing us more than the war in Iraq on an annual basis.

But you never hear any of the people agitating for higher taxes mention that inconvenient fact.
6.3.2008 8:35am
Agreenb (mail) (www):
I'd say that the Republicans have discovered that it's much more politically advantageous to pass tremendous debt off onto their successors and let them foot the bill with higher taxes.
6.3.2008 8:47am
K. Dackson (mail):
Agreenb:

A trick they learned all too well from 40 years of Democrat rule in the House, I'm sad to say.
6.3.2008 9:01am
DiverDan (mail):
Setting aside for the moment the issue of Iraq and the concomitant increase in defense spending, one of the primary motives for Republican sponsored tax cuts, from the days of Ronald Reagan up to the first G.W. Bush term, was to try to compel spending cuts on what were viewed as ineffectual domestic programs. I really think that G.W. Bush understood this point in the beginning, but let it get lost when he engaged the Democrats in a bidding war for the votes of seniors by pushing the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. Then the Republicans in Congress lost all sense of purpose and conservative principal and decided to use their control over Congress not to impose any sort of fiscal discipline, but rather to engage in an orgy of pork barrel spending. Bush then continued to push tax cuts, not as a means of enforcing fiscal discipline, but as just another way of buying votes for the next election.

Regardless of what you might think of Scott McClellan's "betrayal" of Bush, the one point that he makes in his book that is worth serious consideration is that the political process under G.W. Bush became one of the neverending campaign -- government was not about achieving policies beneficial for the Country, it was about using government resources to buy the right number of votes in the right places to carry the next election. While Barack Obama promises "Change", I strongly suspect that the only change we will see from a Barack Obama administration (especially with a Democratic controlled Congress) is the demographics of whose votes will be purchased with government resources. A pox on both their houses.
6.3.2008 9:03am
K. Dackson (mail):
DiverDan: The neverending campaign was a technique he learned from Clinton.
6.3.2008 9:11am
Adam J:
K. Dackson - kind of rewriting history to blame the debt on Democrats aren't you? The debt was basically flat when adjusted for inflation since WWII until Reagan and Bush I's budgets increased it substantially (and actually shrunk as a fraction of GDP). And lets not forget that it shrunk substantially under Clinton. Your number for the cost of the war is also low.
6.3.2008 9:45am
Sarcastro (www):
Adam - you see, debt only went during Clinton down cause of the Republican congress. And the dot com boom. Republican Congress and dot com boom. Ysiree, if it weren't for those two things, Clinton would totally have spent a whole bunch more money on giving fat sacks of cash to fat welfare queens.

Then when Bush was in office with a republican congress, we had 9-11, which changed everything. Except all the bad things Clinton did, which Bush also did, but it was still Clinton's fault, cause he did it first. But we didn't see him doing so cause of the Republican Congress and the dot com boom.

//that's the ticket!
6.3.2008 9:59am
K. Dackson (mail):
AdamJ:

With a Democrat controlled House (and Senate for some of the Regan years), the spending restraint was lacking by the Dems. After all, I believe all spending bills must start in the House, no?

If you want to write history, write all of it, before you accuse someone of rewriting it. Correcting your errors of omission is not a rewrite, it's simply and edit to reflect reality.
6.3.2008 10:00am
Shertaugh:
Our geometrically compounding national debt hasn't done much for the dollar against the rest of the world. The dollar's crash in the past 7 years has been the biggest burden on Americans. But who wants to talk about a collapsing dollar and its long-range economic impact on the *energy war*, right?
6.3.2008 10:05am
K. Dackson (mail):
"Energy War"? Do you mean that we fought the war for oil? If so, why isn't it flowing like water? Why would we be willing to buy it at market prices when we could just sieze it?

Do us all a favor and get a grip.
6.3.2008 10:10am
Layedback (mail):
When will we all learn that political choice within the country is a false one? The teams (dems and GOP) mirror each other over and over, and eventually make the same choices. No longer can it be said that the GOP is the party of "limited government", George Bush has spent more on domestic programs than LBJ even when adjusted for inflation,and has yet to close the borders despite "security fears". The Democratic party can only embody any semblance of "change" if their so-called leaders stop pandering to every wind of current doctrine.
Obama/McCain the result is the same, i.e. more government and gradual degradation of rights. The only choice is if you want your Leviathan government to promise you the world or steal it incrimentally. Thus the comments by "DiverDan" sadly ring true, and can be boiled down to just one truth. Democracy is simply the preferred form of exploitation, because when "the people" are given the illusion of choice they have none to blame for their eventual enslavement but themselves through their own consent. Abolish the FED and the IRS and we will no longer allow true leaders to be sacrificed in the name of the status quo, as in Plato's "Allegory of the Cave."
Perhaps Barry Goldwater, one such political sacrificial lamb, put it best when he stated, "I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is "needed" before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents "interests," I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can."
6.3.2008 10:16am
Adam J:
K. Dackson - "If you want to write history, write all of it, before you accuse someone of rewriting it. Correcting your errors of omission is not a rewrite, it's simply and edit to reflect reality." Honestly, I have no idea what that means, you might want another cup of coffee. And to blame the massive debt increases during the Reagan &Bush I years on a Democratic Congress is incredibly disingenous. During Reagans years there were significant cuts in social programs, it was massive military spending coupled with massive tax cuts that caused the debt. All of this was at Reagan's initiative.
6.3.2008 10:23am
Bill Dyer (mail) (www):
Not all wars are the same. Although the Iraq War is expensive, neither it nor the Afghanistan operations remotely approach the percentages of GDP that were devoted to the Civil War or World War II.

The question has to be asked separately for each war: "Can we afford this war without raising taxes?" And the "afford" calculus has to include all of the economic disadvantages associated with tax increases -- a subject on which we have more information now than we did in, say, 1942. The Bush Administration's answer has been "Yes," and we're now at a record number of calendar quarters without a decrease in GDP. But there's no doubt that a tax increase now would promptly tip us into recession. Regardless of whether McCain or Bush were correct about the need for a tax increase in 2003, both are clearly correct in saying that we can't afford a tax increase now.
6.3.2008 10:39am
KenB (mail):
If you believe, as I am inclined to, that there is an optimum level of taxation that balances the level of tax receipts with the level of growth in the economy, then raising taxes doesn't make sense even in time of war--if you are at or beyond that optimum level.

If (given that) spending exceeds tax receipts, the question becomes should we (1) decrease spending, (2) finance the deficit with increased taxes, thereby dampening economic growth and reducing future tax revenues, or (3) finance the deficit with debt, thereby burdening future taxpayers with the burden of paying off past expenditures with interest. Given political reality, we can forget about option 1. I don't like either of options 2 or 3.
6.3.2008 10:59am
MarkField (mail):

There's also the point that the Reagan tax cuts arguably showed that lower tax rates can result in higher tax revenues, and vice versa.


I believe there's a consensus among economists that, regardless of whether this is possible in theory, lower taxes did not, in fact, result in higher tax revenues during the Reagan years.
6.3.2008 11:04am
AnonLawStudent:

Not all wars are the same. Although the Iraq War is expensive, neither it nor the Afghanistan operations remotely approach the percentages of GDP that were devoted to the Civil War or World War II. The question has to be asked separately for each war: "Can we afford this war without raising taxes?"

That point was made repeatedly - including with hard numbers - in the previous thread. See, e.g., here. Mr. Stark does not seem to be responding to substantive critiques of his posts.
6.3.2008 11:04am
K. Dackson (mail):
AdamJ:

Let me expalin it for you.

You accuse me of rewriting history. Simply stated, your narrative is that Reagan and Bush I massively "cut" social programs in order to lower taxes.

Here are your errors of omission:

1) Reagan lowered marginal tax rates - this resulted in a net increase in revenues for the federal government.

2) The "cuts" in social programs were, in fact, cuts in the rate of growth of those programs. Spending for those programs actually increased by more than the rate of inflation during the Reagan years (in real dollars), but it not grow as fast as it was projected to grow.

3) Spending bills originate in the House (controlled by Democrats) - you can look this up (it's in the US Constitution).

4) Bush Sr. had the single biggest tax increase in the history of the US (at the time) which led to Clinton's election. Tax rates raised during an economic slowdown (a decidedly dumb thing to do).

5) Yes, the miliraty was given extra money, after Carter gutted the defense budget. However, the additional money spent on social programs was more in actual dollars.

As they say, you can go look it up.
6.3.2008 11:10am
K. Dackson (mail):
MarkField:

You should look it up. Spending went up during the Reagan years, but tax revenues also wnet up. The defecit as a percentage of the overall budget did not appreciably increase.
6.3.2008 11:12am
Adam J:
AnonLawStudent- the question of whether we can afford to raise taxes is independent of the question of whether its moral for citizens to lower their tax obligation to government when we are simultanously putting soldiers in harms way. We're effectively lowering our obligation to government as we simultanously demand a greater obligation from our troops. The main difference for me is that this war is by a volunteer army, so while they might be unfair, it's unfairness that the soldiers have voluntarily accepted (of course, small wonder that armed forces recruitment is currently so low).
6.3.2008 11:17am
AnonLawStudent:

The question of whether we can afford to raise taxes is independent of the question of whether its moral for citizens to lower their tax obligation to government when we are simultanously putting soldiers in harms way.


I fail to see any issue of morality involved. If the military requires X dollars to undertake the directed campaign, the only morality involved is whether or not those funds are provided. The combination of reduced domestic spending, increased taxes, or - revenues permitting - tax cuts is irrelevant so long as the military is provided with sufficient funding to execute the campaign.
6.3.2008 11:27am
JB:
The 1986 tax bill, which lowered taxes significantly, also tightened up a lot of tax loopholes. It's apples and oranges--of course lower taxes that you actually collect are going to bring in more money than higher taxes that everyone avoids through loopholes.
6.3.2008 11:27am
Adam J:
Item 1 includes an unproven inference- there's no agreement whatsoever that the tax cuts led to the increases in revenue- plenty of other economic factors were at play, not the least of which was unprecedented (at least since WWII)government spending.
Item 2 is patently false by every source I've ever read, what is your source?
Item 3 is true, but you're forgetting the fact that Presidents have the largest vote regarding whether any bill passes... and thats in the Constitution too.
Item 4- I don't understand, are you're trying to say that Bush I doesn't count because he increased taxes?
Item 5 is also irrelevant- the issue isn't whether the budget is spent on social programs or military spending, you claimed that "pass[ing] tremendous debt off onto their successors and let them foot the bill with higher taxes", came from 40 years of Democrat rule in the house. However every massive increase in debt after WWII corresponds with a Republican President, not a Democratic Congress.
6.3.2008 11:49am
K. Dackson (mail):
AdamJ:

1) What inference? Tax rates went down, the amount collected went up. Or is that too difficult to comprehend?

2) Democrats have forever been arguing that cuts in the rate of projected growth is a cut. Tell me, how does increasing the amount spent on program "X" count as a "cut"?

3) Which is why Reagan was the first to argue for a line-item veto. To get what he wanted, he had to swallow Tip O'Neil's crap.

4) Exactly right - Bush Sr. increased tax rates and taxes in general. You were wrong in your assertion that Bush Sr. cut taxes.

5) Then how do you account for the growth of Social(ist) Security - a program initiated by a Democrat President, Democrat House, and Democrat Senate?

The simple fact is that spending for a war is a single annual expenditure. Spending for a social program is a continuing obligation that grows every year and never ends.

And that is the crux of the topic. Wars are by far cheaper than any new social spending, because a war will eventually end. Social programs will be the never-ending perpetually-growing monster that will bankrupt the country.
6.3.2008 11:59am
Adam J:
AnonLawStudent- "I fail to see any issue of morality involved. If the military requires X dollars to undertake the directed campaign, the only morality involved is whether or not those funds are provided." The military only requires a limited number of dollars because we have soldiers who are making the ultimate sacrifice for chump change. We've asked our soldiers to sacrifice more for our country and fight a war for us, and meanwhile we decide that we can sacrifice less for our country. You don't see that as unfair?
6.3.2008 12:00pm
Smokey:
As we can see from Adam J's post above, the perpetual mindset of liberals is to raise taxes. Raising taxes is enough motivation in itself; there doesn't even have to be a reason [but of course, reasons are always easy to generate].

Kirk Stark's polemic is an exercise in psychological projection, pretending that Republicans, rather than Democrats, are the party of tax increases. As the great Ronald Reagan so bluntly put it:

Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the Democrats believe every day is April 15th.
6.3.2008 12:17pm
Sarcastro (www):
K. Dackson is right!

1) Correlation is ALWAYS equal to causation!

2) All government services that increast as the population increases are unnatural, and should be eliminated.

3) Stupid Constitution, if only we had a dictatorship, imagine the savings!

4) Bush Sr. was a Democrat.

5) Democrats hate America and show it by caring for the elderly.

http://www.cbpp.org/3-3-03tax.htm
6.3.2008 12:22pm
Adam J:
1) the inference is that the tax cut and increase in amount collected are correlated, is that to difficult to comprehend? For instance, when government defense spending increases dramatically, it obviously resulted in tax revenue. The reduction in loopholes (effectively a tax increase) also resulted in greater tax revenue.
2) nonresponsive- give me a source that shows "Spending for those programs actually increased by more than the rate of inflation during the Reagan years"
3) I'm not aware of how much crap he swallowed, but irregardless making concessions on pork so you can include your own budget increases is incredible fiscal irresponsibility.
4) I didn't assert Bush Sr. cut taxes, I asserted that recent Republican Presidents are responsible for our current debt level, not the Democratic Congress.
5) I never suggested social security wasn't bloated, but it somehow never substantially increased our national debt until the years of those recent Republican Presidents.
6.3.2008 12:24pm
MarkField (mail):

You should look it up. Spending went up during the Reagan years, but tax revenues also wnet up.


I don't need to look it up. It can be and very likely is true. The problem is, that doesn't prove your point. The reason it doesn't is that the economy grows and would grow either way. In order to know whether the tax cuts caused increased revenue, you would need to show that they caused enough extra growth to make up for revenue lost due to the tax cuts. Economists have done that study, and the cuts did NOT increase growth enough to make up the difference.

Again, I believe there's no (or at least little) dispute about this. Economists across the board agree. For example, I read it from Greg Mankiw.
6.3.2008 12:24pm
Adam J:
Smokey- "As we can see from Adam J's post above, the perpetual mindset of liberals is to raise taxes." I'm baffled by how you reached this conclusion. Also, I dunno about you, but I found readers in the blog are more responsive to logical argument over rhetoric, you might want to try it.
6.3.2008 12:33pm
c.gray (mail):
Maybe the big difference is that modern "peacetime" tax rates are higher than the old "wartime" rates.
6.3.2008 12:33pm
K. Dackson (mail):
AdamJ:

If you want to pay additional taxes to the government, by all means do so. Nobody's stopping you.

Just keep your hand out of my wallet.

Try to get your facts right. Which seems to be a problem with Democrats in general, and Liberals in particular.
6.3.2008 12:38pm
K. Dackson (mail):
Adam:

When you actually have a logical argument rather than DNC talking points, you may have a case.

You are the one who claimed it was not moral to lower taxes in time of war.


The military only requires a limited number of dollars because we have soldiers who are making the ultimate sacrifice for chump change. We've asked our soldiers to sacrifice more for our country and fight a war for us, and meanwhile we decide that we can sacrifice less for our country. You don't see that as unfair?


Pot. Kettle. Black.
6.3.2008 12:41pm
Sarcastro (www):
Mmmm, that's some good arguin' Dackson! The logic! The salient points! Sweet Jesus, you're smart.
6.3.2008 12:43pm
Smokey:
Mmmm, that's some good arguin' Dackson! The logic! The salient points! Sweet Jesus, you're smart.
Now he's posting under a new name; Sarcastro. He thinks we wouldn't notice.

K. Dackson:
AdamJ:

If you want to pay additional taxes to the government, by all means do so. Nobody's stopping you.

Just keep your hand out of my wallet.

Try to get your facts right. Which seems to be a problem with Democrats in general, and Liberals in particular.
Neded to be repeated.
6.3.2008 12:52pm
Iolo:
We've asked our soldiers to sacrifice more for our country and fight a war for us, and meanwhile we decide that we can sacrifice less for our country. You don't see that as unfair?

The comparison is meaningless. How do you propose to quantify precisely the level of civilian sacrifice necessary to provide a "fair" amount of sacrifice compared to that of soldiers in combat? Exactly what amount of money do I have to "give up" in order for things to be "fair"? And why? People are already free to donate as much to military-related charities as they like. I trust you are sending them the proceeds of your tax cut?
6.3.2008 12:53pm
Jiminy (mail):
K. Dackson, you said that wars eventually end... Are you talking about the War on Drugs, the Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas, the War on Terror, or the War of 1812 tax that was finally ended recently? Let me know.
6.3.2008 12:56pm
devoman:
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the interest on the national debt is costing us more than the war in Iraq on an annual basis.

But you never hear any of the people agitating for higher taxes mention that inconvenient fact.


I'd argue for higher taxes because of that fact.
6.3.2008 12:57pm
Jiminy (mail):
The only spending differences between the parties in the past decade are summed up as such:

Democrats want to increase social spending and keep military spending flat. Reformist Democrats (or Lie-berals) want to increase social spending and reduce military spending.

Republicans want to keep social spending flat and increase military spending. Reformist Republicans (or Social Conservatives) want to reduce social spending and increase military spending.

The independents, moderates, libertarians, and progressives are outliers and only exist as ideological boundary markers.

Did I forget anyone in my over-simplification?
6.3.2008 1:01pm
Jiminy (mail):
I support a draft and even further, peacetime conscription for every American for at least one year (similar to the Israeli system?) I also support some of that time being spent working in your local (city and state) governments.

When you get to see how the machines work, how the sausage is made, and understand where your troops and dollars go, you would finally have a stake in the game and maybe our hoary institutions of welfare and $600.00 toilet seats might get some needed reform...
6.3.2008 1:03pm
AnonLawStudent:

The military only requires a limited number of dollars because we have soldiers who are making the ultimate sacrifice for chump change. We've asked our soldiers to sacrifice more for our country and fight a war for us, and meanwhile we decide that we can sacrifice less for our country. You don't see that as unfair?

No, I don't. Military benefits, considered in toto, are close to the market clearing rate. The flip side of your argument is the "unfairness" of more than 40% of the populace not paying any income tax during wartime. Perhaps that portion of the populace should make some sacrifice before the remainder of the populace is asked to give more.
6.3.2008 1:14pm
byomtov (mail):
K Dackson,

Deficits in the Reagan years were generally in the range of 3-6% of GDP. This is far above the levels earlier in the post-WWII era.

For example, Reagan's smallest deficit, in 1989, was 2.8%. Before 1982 (4%) that level was reached only in 1946 (7.2%), 1968(2.9%), 1975(3.4%, and 1976(4.2%). The deficits from 1983 through 1986 exceeded any previous post-war year except 1946.

Also, while revenues did in fact grow during the Reagan years, that proves little. Revenues consistently grow year-to-year, becasue of population graowth, economic growth, and inflation. There was no exceptional growth under Reagan. Even conservative economists like Mankiw and Hubbard consider the claim that tax cuts were self-financing to be nonsense.
6.3.2008 1:17pm
Adam J:
"People are already free to donate as much to military-related charities as they like." Ah right, voluntary donations, just like a soldier's voluntary military service during a war.... oh wait.

"Military benefits, considered in toto, are close to the market clearing rate." Shocking statement, considering just how high our demand for new troops are. Troops are on their, 4th or so tour now? Props though, you do an amazing job of hiding an apparent callousness for the sacrifice of our troops in economic lingo. And how is your statement about 40% of the population a "flip side"?
6.3.2008 1:37pm
Adam J:
Jiminy - two words... political suicide.
6.3.2008 1:41pm
Adam J:
AnonLawStudent- you've also apparently missed my main point, that Republicans can, with some degree of justification, distinguish the tax issue for earlier wars where troops were conscripted and the current wars where troops are voluntary. Troops now a days are making voluntary choice to make a greater sacrifice then other citizens. This justification is however limited by the fact that troops can't just back out when they decide they've sacrificed enough (made more poignant by the ludicrious number of tours many troops have went on).
6.3.2008 1:47pm
Iolo:
Ah right, voluntary donations, just like a soldier's voluntary military service during a war.... oh wait.

Can you quantify exactly the "fair" dollar amount that each civilian should sacrifice to the war effort? If not, what support is there for your claim that civilians are not "sacrificing enough"? If Adam J thinks more needs to be done, then let him give more, but if others think they're already doing enough, what basis is there to say that they're not?
6.3.2008 1:54pm
Iolo:
how is your statement about 40% of the population a "flip side"?

If you want "more sacrifice", how about some sacrifice from the large percentage of the population that not only is not sacrificing anything, but is a net drain on revenues?
6.3.2008 1:55pm
Adam J:
Iolo- I obviously have no idea what the "fair" dollar amount is.... no one does. The fact is, however, we have now required civilians to sacrifice less, while simultanously requiring our troops to sacrifice far far more. This offends many people's basic notions of fairness (although apparently not your own).
6.3.2008 1:59pm
Iolo:
I am trying to get a better grip on this "fairness" thing. If we don't know what level of taxation is "fair", how can we say that reducing taxes is "unfair"? So far all I hear is "it is unfair because I say it is". Nor have you demonstrated that the tax cuts have affected troop morale or enlistment rates. All this offends my basic notions of how convincing arguments should be developed.

Did I miss the part where you said taxes should be raised and the revenue should be given to the Defense Department? That, at least, would be a solid practical argument, as opposed to these flabby claims about "fairness".
6.3.2008 2:09pm
Adam J:
Iolo- That's not a "flip" side in my understanding of the term. Nor has Bush entertained any efforts to do so- he's merely lowered the average sacrifice of citizens while raising the sacrifice of troops, so I don't see how its relevant. Furthermore, how would you propose taking resources from this 40%... taking from the pittance they make, indentured servitude, a draft? It's just so terribly unfair that we have to pay far more taxes then them... I wish I grew up in a ghetto with little opportunity for success so I could sponge off society as well.
6.3.2008 2:11pm
eyesay:
K. Dackson wrote: "I believe all spending bills must start in the House, no?" at 6.3.2008 9:00am

K. Dackson wrote: "Spending bills originate in the House (controlled by Democrats) - you can look this up (it's in the US Constitution)," at 6.3.2008 10:10am

Amazingly, on this major law blog, more than 3 hours after the initial post, nobody has bothered to correct K. Dackson &mdash until now.

U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 7: "All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills."

Spending bills can originate in either the House or the Senate.

Energy War: K. Dackson thinks he cleverly demolishes the idea that the war in Iraq might have something to do with energy by pointing out that oil "isn't flowing like water" now. That is a non-sequitur to a misunderstood argument. Given the enormous profits raked in by companies such as Halliburton and Blackwater, President Bush's years in the oil industry, Vice President Dick Cheney's history with Halliburton, record profits for the oil companies, and the fact that each and every excuse for starting the war in Iraq is now known to be a lie, one might suspect that one of their motivations for starting the war in Iraq was to benefit energy companies. I do not claim that this is proven beyond doubt, but I believe it is a reasonable hypothesis, and K. Dackson's non sequitur casts no doubt whatsoever on the validity of this hypothesis.

"Tip O'Neil's crap" — this is a feeble attempt at an ad hominem but is neither evidence nor argument.

"Then how do you account for the growth of Social(ist) Security - a program initiated by a Democrat President, Democrat House, and Democrat Senate?"

Social Security is a very popular program because most Americans, whether libertarian or not, believe that persons who work for a living should be able to retire with some minimum income, for as long as they live, even if they have no pension plan, or their pension plan goes bust, even if they have no personal savings, or their personal savings gets used for a medical emergency. Contrary to Dackson, Social Security has not grown in benefits over the past 25 years or more; if anything, benefits have been cut slightly by raising the retirement age. The program has expanded only in that demographically, more people are in the age group that benefits from it, and very small payroll tax increases have been instituted to keep the program sound.

I'd point out more problems with Dackson's pseudo-arguments, but this is getting long so I'll stop here.
6.3.2008 2:12pm
Adam J:
eyesay- I believe the Constitution's clause has been interpreted to include spending bills- Appropriations bills always start in the House.
6.3.2008 2:21pm
Shertaugh:
K.Dackson:

I use the term *energy war* not to refer to Iraq.

I'm using the term to refer to our relative position vis-a-vis the rest of the world in the long-term economic battle for the quantity-fixed carbon-based fuels in the ground.

PS - Was you're "get a grip" comment really necessary? How 'bout trying, "what did you mean by *energy war*"

Should I assume your personal remark reflects your reflexive belief in all things GOP -- no matter how stupid, incompetent, wrong-headed, and destructive of America?

Or just a lack of courtesy?
6.3.2008 2:26pm
Iolo:
how would you propose taking resources from this 40%... taking from the pittance they make, indentured servitude, a draft? It's just so terribly unfair that we have to pay far more taxes then them... I wish I grew up in a ghetto with little opportunity for success so I could sponge off society as well.

You are the one who called for civilian sacrifice, not me. They got the benefit of the tax cuts / rebates you decry, even though they are in many cases not net taxpayers. But then I guess "fairness" does not demand logical consistency, only that one is in touch with one's feelings.
6.3.2008 2:28pm
eyesay:
Adam J wrote: "I believe the Constitution's clause has been interpreted to include spending bills- Appropriations bills always start in the House."

Well, in a nation of over 300 million, it wouldn't be surprising of someone, somewhere, sometime, like maybe, say, Adam J, interpreted Article I, Section 7, to mean that spending bills have to originate in the house. But can you find any court ruling to that effect?

Most bills passed by Congress entail some expenditure. By your theory, any bill that calls for spending even $1.00 would have to originate in the House. Sorry, just plain wrong. There have been over 3000 bills introduced in the Senate so far in the 110th Congress, and a significant number of them are spending bills.
6.3.2008 2:59pm
William Dalasio (mail):
The military only requires a limited number of dollars because we have soldiers who are making the ultimate sacrifice for chump change. We've asked our soldiers to sacrifice more for our country and fight a war for us, and meanwhile we decide that we can sacrifice less for our country.


Strictly speaking, the military exists with an option-like pay structure. Whether we are at war or not, the military is paid on the premise that they will go to war. That the option is exercised at this particular time does not change the nature of the contract.

More to the point, both your post and the article treat sacrifice as a virtue in and of itself. There's been no substatntive evidence that higher tax rates would do anything whatsoever to improve either the success or the safety of our troops. In contrast, we know that a higher tax rate would burden our economy with a slower rate of growth. It seems bizarre to suggest that we should undermine our own well-being in a display of symbolic unity.
6.3.2008 3:06pm
Adam J:
Iolo- Lemme get this straight, I state it seems intrinsically unfair to demand less sacrifice from citizens while you simultanously demand more sacrifice from troops. First, you act baffled by this argument... like you can't wrap your brain around this idea. (This actually may be the best possible strategy, since arguing that its untrue opens you up to a whole lotta rhetoric about not being patriotic or not supporting the troops)

And second, you somehow think the fact that because some civilians sacrifice nothing (typically cause they have nothing, but I digress) all citizens should therefore be allowed to sacrifice less even while troops make an amazing sacrifice for the United States. (A nice argument that manages to draws attention to a common conservative claim of inequity, yet does little to refute the inequity between lessening citizen sacrifice and while increasing soldiers sacrifice).
6.3.2008 3:11pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
Ignore Sarcastro the troll. Don't feed it.
6.3.2008 3:23pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
You are the one who called for civilian sacrifice, not me. They got the benefit of the tax cuts / rebates you decry, even though they are in many cases not net taxpayers.

It is stunningly dishonest (but not that unusual for conservatives) to point to one portion of the Federal tax burden--the income tax--to make the claim that because a certain amount of taxpayers don't pay Federal Income taxes they pay no taxes at all. They pay FICA and Medicare taxes. They pay Federal gas and excise taxes. They pay state and local income, sales and real estate taxes. Their total tax burden, in most cases, is just as high, if not higher than many high income people.

In contrast, we know that a higher tax rate would burden our economy with a slower rate of growth. It seems bizarre to suggest that we should undermine our own well-being in a display of symbolic unity.

This war has been paid for completely on credit. It will undermine our economy eventually. Why is it a "conservative" position to not pay for something we could easily afford (as all of you point out what a tiny part of the GDP it is) now instead delaying the costs and making somebody else in the future pay for it?
6.3.2008 3:23pm
Adam J:
William Dalasio - "That the option is exercised at this particular time does not change the nature of the contract." And just when we exercise our "option" to increase their sacrifice, we exercise an option to cut our own sacrifice. "More to the point, both your post and the article treat sacrifice as a virtue in and of itself." Don't you think our soldiers sacrifice is a virtue in and of itself? "There's been no substatntive evidence that higher tax rates would do anything whatsoever to improve either the success or the safety of our troops." Obviously, any money would have to be appropriated correctly by Congress as well (which is asking alot to be sure), but more money in the military during the war would almost certainly have saved soldiers' lives. "In contrast, we know that a higher tax rate would burden our economy with a slower rate of growth." As much as our mounting public debt does?
6.3.2008 3:25pm
Adam J:
William Dalasio - By the way, thanks for keeping it civil and engaging me with an actual argument, instead of rhetoric.
6.3.2008 3:27pm
Sarcastro (www):
EIDE, I would like to think that beneath my witty and sardonic demeanor, there is some content in my barbs.

e.g. pointing out that Dackson was only calling people liars, and not adding substance to his post.

I do believe what I say. Not a troll!
6.3.2008 3:40pm
William Dalasio (mail):
Don't you think our soldiers sacrifice is a virtue in and of itself?


I can't help but think of a quote by George S. Patton: "The Objective in war is not to die for your country, but to make the other (guy) die for his." The point being that the hardships endured by or the loss of any of our soldiers are misfortunes or tragedies, respectively - not good things in and of themselves.

Obviously, any money would have to be appropriated correctly by Congress as well (which is asking alot to be sure), but more money in the military during the war would almost certainly have saved soldiers' lives.


So, even though we have no evidence of any military needs being denied due to budget constraints, we are to assume that, if taxes were higher and if spending were sufficiently optimized we might have saved lives. Adam, you seem like a reasonably smart guy. Do you really expect us to buy that? A much more likely scenario is that we'd simply have more spending on all the other areas the government spends on.

As much as our mounting public debt does?


I'm inclined to believe so. But, this last point is at least framing the discussion in sound economic terms. Good going.
6.3.2008 3:42pm
Iolo:
Lemme get this straight, I state it seems intrinsically unfair to demand less sacrifice from citizens while you simultanously demand more sacrifice from troops. First, you act baffled by this argument... like you can't wrap your brain around this idea.

I asked you to define "fair" in an objective, quantitative manner. You refused to do so, and later admitted that it is impossible to do so. There is no reason, from where I sit, to accept your idea of "fairness" as better than mine. So, while I understand your "argument" (not really an argument but an appeal to emotion) I reject it. I feel differently than you about "fairness", and I don't see how you can possibly establish that your feelings are superior to mine. All you can do is roll out additional appeals to emotion, to which I am simply indifferent.

you somehow think the fact that because some civilians sacrifice nothing (typically cause they have nothing, but I digress) all citizens should therefore be allowed to sacrifice less even while troops make an amazing sacrifice for the United States.

You have failed to demonstrate that there is a meaningful relationship between how much civilians pay in taxes and how much the troops are called upon to suffer. You simply repeat endlessly that for some unknown reason, civilians should have to pay more than they do now. Why? Who knows, but Adam J feels it in his gut, so it must be true! If the civilian tax rate should be somewhere between 0% and 100% in time of war, why is the level you think it should be morally superior to the level I think it should be? And how would that be associated with death and wounding at the front? How many extra dollars should each civilian be required to pay for every death or wound? Why? Just calling for "extra sacrifice" for its own sake is simply absurd.

The majority of the people who pay little or no taxes do not have nothing. But I digress...

It is stunningly dishonest (but not that unusual for conservatives) to point to one portion of the Federal tax burden--the income tax--to make the claim that because a certain amount of taxpayers don't pay Federal Income taxes they pay no taxes at all.

It is stunningly dishonest (but not that unusual for liberals) to misrepresent the argument I actually made and instead attack something I didn't say.
6.3.2008 4:39pm
Adam J:
"The point being that the hardships endured by or the loss of any of our soldiers are misfortunes or tragedies, respectively - not good things in and of themselves." Obviously hardship is not the virtue, the virtue is the willingness to endure hardship for our Country. Our citizens unwillingness to endure hardship while our soldiers do speaks volumes. "So, even though we have no evidence of any military needs being denied due to budget constraints, we are to assume that, if taxes were higher and if spending were sufficiently optimized we might have saved lives." That's exactly what I'm suggesting, do you really dispute this? Everytime the number of troops dropped in Iraq the number of casualties increased. "A much more likely scenario is that we'd simply have more spending on all the other areas the government spends on." I never disputed this may be a problem, but some well used rhetoric could go along way here- people really like to support our troops when it comes to wartime. "I'm inclined to believe so." What is the basis for this inclination? Should our children have to pay taxes for the government services we receive? Not to mention we might really need to borrow money sometime in the future and find we're unable to afford it. Nor is the US government a profit making corporation that will see any real return on money it borrows.
6.3.2008 4:53pm
Adam J:
Iolo- The meaningful relationship should be obvious... we citizens will contribute our tax dollars to ensure troops are adequately supplied during wartime to minimize the hardships that they endure. Do you really dispute that greater resources for our troops would result in less casualties and hardship for our troops? Since this would have been a tough sell to the American people, we simply undersupplied the troops, resulting in a war that's likely to last longer than World War II, not to mention four thousand American lives and counting (and far more Iraqi lives). And instead of us paying now for our soldiers, our government attempts to borrow money, on a budget that already wasn't balanced, so later generations of Americans will have to pay.
6.3.2008 5:53pm
William Dalasio (mail):
That's exactly what I'm suggesting, do you really dispute this?


Okay, lets get down to brass tacks. What would you have bought them that they didn't already have? What were they denied in the name of budget constraints? You'll have to understand my skepticism. To date, all I've heard from anyone advocating tax hikes is a hypothetical
"something" that somehow or another would have provided some magic bullet. As far as I can see, given no request has been denied on budget constraints, its kind of difficult to see where all of this extra tax money would go into the war effort, rhetoric and pretty words or no rhetoric and pretty words.

What is the basis for this inclination?


For the tax cuts to not be stimulative the crowding out effect of the deficit would have to exceed the stimulative effect of lower taxes. And the mechanism the crowding out effect works through is higher interest rates. But, both interest rates and credit spreads have been at remarkably low levels over the past few years, arguing strongly against a crowding out effect. Hence, the available evidence suggests that the lower tax rates have been, on net stimulative.

Should our children have to pay taxes for the government services we receive?

No. But, if anything that argues much more stringently against effectively irreversible entitlement expansions than stimulative tax cuts.

Not to mention we might really need to borrow money sometime in the future and find we're unable to afford it. Nor is the US government a profit making corporation that will see any real return on money it borrows.

Why not? The government is not prohibited from raising taxes at some later point (presumably during an expansion, when the stimulative effects are less important). As you note, the government does not generate a return on the money it borrows. But, that also means it does not generate a return on the money it taxes. If the return on private investment has a sufficient premium over the risk-free government rate, then allowing its reinvestment in to the market by private enterprise does, in fact, generate the equivalent of a return on the borrowing.
6.3.2008 6:01pm
Michael B (mail):
"Don't you think our soldiers sacrifice is a virtue in and of itself?"
"I can't help but think of a quote by George S. Patton: "The Objective in war is not to die for your country, but to make the other (guy) die for his." The point being that the hardships endured by or the loss of any of our soldiers are misfortunes or tragedies, respectively - not good things in and of themselves."
In fact, the point more simply concerned the objective in war, i.e. winning. Which fact has nothing to do with the potential for virtue as reflected in sacrifice.
6.3.2008 8:02pm
William Dalasio (mail):
In fact, the point more simply concerned the objective in war, i.e. winning.


Um, No. The point is concerned with the fact that the goal in any war is to not have to sacrifice, to force the enemy to sacrifice.
6.3.2008 11:27pm
Smokey:
Sarcastro:
I do believe what I say. Not a troll!
Troll. Doubled and squared.

Starve it. Before it ruins a great site.
6.3.2008 11:36pm
Michael B (mail):
Um, yes, William. Simply and more formally put, you're presenting a false dichotomy. It's not an either/or. Likewise, no one is saying that one's own sacrifice should be positively sought, as an end in and of itself, even to the contrary.
6.4.2008 12:03am
Iolo at home:
Our citizens unwillingness to endure hardship while our soldiers do speaks volumes.

Our citizens are not unwilling to endure hardship. They haven't been asked to! And it's not clear that they need to in order to win this war.

That's exactly what I'm suggesting, do you really dispute this?

Yes.

The meaningful relationship should be obvious... we citizens will contribute our tax dollars to ensure troops are adequately supplied during wartime to minimize the hardships that they endure. Do you really dispute that greater resources for our troops would result in less casualties and hardship for our troops?

For the great majority of this thread you have not claimed that the troops lacked anything, but this new approach is definitely more plausible than the previous "civilians should sacrifice as a symbolic gesture" line of approach.

My own view, however, is that the problem with the execution of this war has not been lack of resources at the tactical level so much as incompetence at the strategic / political level.

And instead of us paying now for our soldiers, our government attempts to borrow money, on a budget that already wasn't balanced, so later generations of Americans will have to pay.

Modern war is always financed by borrowing, never by "paying now". This war is no different from any other war we've fought, or indeed that any other country has fought, for several hundred years. Later generations always have to pay.
6.4.2008 1:37am
William Dalasio (mail):
no one is saying that one's own sacrifice should be positively sought, as an end in and of itself, even to the contrary.


Which, in turn, means that sacrifice is not a virtue (unless you want to argue that virtue should not be positively sought, as an end in and of itself). Which, in turn, means that the existence of battlefield sacrifice has no particular bearing on whether we should raise taxes.
QED
6.4.2008 9:45am
Randy R. (mail):
"Deficits in the Reagan years were generally in the range of 3-6% of GDP. This is far above the levels earlier in the post-WWII era. "

This reminds of the time in the late 70s, when Jimmy Carter was president. The deficit was about $50 billion. The Wall Street Journal screamed and ranted and raved that the deficit is ruining the economy and Must Be Eliminated. By a balanced budget amendment, if necessary.

Then Reagon came in to office, and ran up the deficit to $200 billion. the WSJ? Oh, deficits ... not really a problem. Actually a GOOD thing, we have come to realize. Helps stimulate the economy.

The Clinton came into office facing a huge deficits. Now the WSJ says that deficist are BAD! They must be eliminated! They even backed Newt Gingrinch with his Contract on America, which had a balanced budget amendment as one of the first goals.

So Clinton raised taxes to help eliminate the deficit. No! That's bad! It will definately ruin the economy! Everyone knows that raising taxes, the WSJ said, will slow down the economy, and result in fewer taxes raised. Bad, bad, bad!

Then the economy roared, and Clinton eliminated the deficit. Did the WSJ applaud? Of course not, they wanted him impeached. Because, you know, he eliminated the deficit AND had a roaring economy.

So the Bush comes into office, and inherits a balanced budget, and ran up the largest deficit ever. What does the WSJ say? Great job, W! No need for a balanced budget amendment, just keep cutting taxes no matter how bad the deficit gets.

It seems that the WSJ's ideas regarding deficits change with who is in the White House, but it has nothing to do with economics.
6.4.2008 11:37pm