Sunday, November 29, 2009

War Advice for Obama Pouring In

Everyone is getting their last words in before Obama's address to the nation on Tuesday. Amid the chatter about Afghanistan, Jack Reed is one of the saner voices:

I'm for the war tax, discussed on This Week by Bernie Sanders and Lindsay Graham. If we're going to have a war, we, the taxpayer, ought to directly pay for it. That way, in the future, we might think twice about allowing our government to invade countries on false premises. If we're paying for wars through a surtax, it might shift our spending habits (perception of war). Ultimately, we pay for it anyway.
This week:
OBEY: If we have to pay for the health care bill, we should pay for the war as well.


OBEY: By having a new war surtax. The problem in this country with this issue is that the only people who have been asked to sacrifice are military families.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Does he have a point there, Senator Graham? If we're going to fight a war, shouldn't the American people pay for it?

GRAHAM: Well, I'd like to see an endeavor to see if we can cut current spending and find some dollars that we're spending today to pay for the war, and prioritize American spending. Where does our national security rate in terms of spending? Are there things that we can do in the stimulus package? Can we trim up the health care bill and other big-ticket items to pay for a war that we can't afford to lose?

So I welcome a debate about how to control government spending and pay for the war. I do want to let Bernie and anyone else listening know that from my point of view, the president is correct in assessing that Afghanistan is a war that must be won because the national security implications of what happens in Afghanistan will follow this country for decades, so I intend to support the president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to -- I want to ask Senator Sanders to comment on this, but first, let me press you on that. You're against -- let me first get Senator Graham on one point there. So you are against the tax, but you are for cutting spending to pay for this, not increasing the deficit? Senator Graham?

GRAHAM: I think it would be a good exercise for the Congress to look at ways to trim up the spending, which has been out of control since the administration came into power, and prior towards this war, the way it should be. Our national security future depends on getting it right in Afghanistan, and there is no better use of taxpayer dollars than to defend America, in my view.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Sanders?

SANDERS: Well, let's see. We spent perhaps $2 or $3 trillion in the war in Iraq that Bush got us into that we never should have been in, which we didn't pay. We sent that bill to our kids and our grandchildren. And what Senator Graham is now saying is, as I understand it, is hey, we can cut back on education so middle-class families can't afford to send their kids to college. We don't have to rebuild our infrastructure. We don't have to invest in sustainable energy, so we stop importing $350 billion a year of foreign oil. We don't have to do all that stuff. Let's just spend more money in Afghanistan, while Europe and the people of China and the people of Russia watch us do that work. I think that is a very poor set of national priorities.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Senator Sanders, if I hear you correctly, if you're against -- if you have a big problem with sending more troops, does that also mean that you're against this surtax that Congressman Obey is talking about in order to pay for the troops?

SANDERS: Look, we have a presence in Afghanistan now. No one is talking about bringing the troops home tomorrow. What we need is more international cooperation. We need an Afghan government that resonates with its people, that is not corrupt. But if you're going to have a presence there, you just can't pass the bill on, as we did in Iraq, to our kids and our grandchildren. I think that's wrong. I think that's immoral. Read the whole transcript.

At the roundtable, Matthew Dowd suggests that it took Obama this long to make a decision, whereas it woul've taken Bush 2 days to make the same decision. I love how these people try to blame Obama.
That's a foolish thing to assert because Obama isn't just making a decision, he's getting buy-in and accountability from all parties. Strategizing on the front end--as opposed to just escalating troops--will pay off.
If Dowd were correct in his theory that Bush's gut is better, then war in Iraq would've been a good decision. But it was not, which is why we still have to consider war in Afghanistan. Dowd, who was a strategist for Bush-Cheney, has a nice pair of blinders on.