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Memo to Pelosi and Reid: Why Not Back the Surge -- But Only If We're All Taxed to Pay for It?


Isn't it time to stop splurging on credit?

If winning the war in Iraq is crucial to the war against global terrorism, and if we can't win this war without twenty-one thousand more troops, why don't we raise taxes to pay for them--or least end the tax cuts that have left us drowning in red ink?

That's the question you should put to the Bush administration right now.

It's hard to think about the financial costs of this war when the human costs are so high. But now that we're being asked to splurge on a surge that will probably just deliver more provocation--and more American targets--to the insurgents of Baghdad, isn't it time we took a hard look at the costs of our runaway borrowing under President George W. Bush?

Let's tote up the bill so far. After inheriting a surplus of $284 billion dollars from the morally depraved Clinton administration (the cost of cleaning Monica's dress alone must have exceeded ten dollars!), the Bush administration has just achieved an estimated deficit of $296 billion in 2006--the fourth largest deficit of all time. And guess who has already scored the THREE highest deficits of all time in the previous three years?

By combining huge tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent of Americans with runaway spending on the war in Iraq, the Bush Administration has driven our national debt to 8.6 trillion dollars, which is more than $28,000 for every man, woman, and child in this country. (When you get the chance, kindly explain to your children and grandchildren why you are sticking them with that bill.) Last year the year the interest payments on this debt were $406 billion. That's $1350 per person, more than SIX times federal spending on education in the same year (see here).

The war in Iraq, which has so far cost us $355 billion, now consumes nearly two billion dollars a week, or $3,749 per Iraqi--more than double their average annual income per person (source). If the Bush administration really believes that we must now raise that level of spending by many billions more, why shouldn't we raise our taxes to pay for the bill?

So don't let the president and his team accuse you of shortchanging our troops, of cutting and running, or of trying to tie the hands of the commander-in-chief when he demands more troops. Let him splurge on the surge--but only on condition that he raise our taxes to do so. Make the splurger-in-chief honestly calculate the cost of the surge, and make him explain what new taxes will pay for it.

Up to now, the only Americans who have been asked to make tangible sacrifices for the war in Iraq are the tiny percentage of our population who have actually fought in it, along with their families and friends and employers. Nearly four years into this war, the president has asked no meaningful sacrifice from anyone else. If he can't persuade the American people that additional troops for this war deserve and demand from all of us the sacrifice of higher taxes, then he doesn't deserve to put one additional soldier into this war.

So your message to the White House should be perfectly simple: tax and surge, George. No tax, no surge.