February 13, 2007

Lieberman's War on Terrorism Tax

Last week, Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) said in a committee hearing that perhaps the federal government should enact a new tax to fund the "war on terrorism," by which he presumably means the Iraq War as well as the war in Afghanistan and other anti-terrorism efforts. I imagine I was not alone when I thought that sounded like a good idea... six years ago. With all due respect, it's startling how what once seemed like common sense today sounds strikingly innovative. What we got instead of a common sense approach to funding anti-terrorism activities and military engagements was the fiscal equivalent of putting two wars on a credit card.

I think I'll find it difficult to explain to my kids several years from now how America responded to September 11. I'll have to explain that in those first few years, Congress decided that what our country needed was a tax cut while we spent hundreds of billions of dollars on two wars, pushing the country, which had a surplus at the start of Bush's presidency, deep into deficit. The tax breaks account for half of the federal budget deficit.

To his credit, Senator Lieberman did vote against most, but not all, of the Bush tax breaks (and thus received a passing score of 80% from CTJ's Congressional Tax Report Card). Here's hoping others take up this theme. Better late than never.


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