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Robert Naiman

Robert Naiman

Posted: September 29, 2010 05:44 PM

For the Washington Post, there's no such thing as a war that America can't afford.

In an editorial today, the Washington Post takes President Obama to task for being concerned about the cost of the war in Afghanistan and the fact that it conflicts with domestic priorities. That the Washington Post, a knee-jerk supporter of war for empire, would slam President Obama for this is the opposite of surprising. Nonetheless, what the Washington Post actually said in its editorial is still breathtaking:

Mr. Obama repeatedly cites the cost of the war and the need to shift resources to domestic priorities -- though spending on Afghanistan is well below 1 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

We have been led to believe that official Washington is seized with urgency about long-term projections of U.S. budget deficits. Yet here is the Washington Post, downplaying the cost of the war in Afghanistan on the grounds that it is "well below 1 percent" of U.S. GDP.

Logically, there are two possibilities.

One possibility is that the Washington Post is saying that in the future, we can ignore any government expenditure or savings that amounts to less than 1% of U.S. GDP as being too small to bother about.

The other possibility is that according to the Washington Post there are two standards for judging costs. One standard is for war, in which an expenditure of less than 1% of GDP is too small to bother about. The other standard is for domestic spending that benefits the majority of Americans, in which a reduction of government expenditure of less than 1% of GDP is something that should be seriously considered.

Considering the Washington Post's view of proposals to reduce the projected long term deficit in the combined budget by cutting Social Security benefits by raising the normal retirement age to 70, it's seems apparent that the Washington Post's view is the latter: spend freely on the war, pinch pennies from America's working families.

I asked economist Dean Baker how much raising the normal retirement age would be likely to save. He said it would be about 0.7% of GDP. Thus, according to the across-the-board "less than 1% of GDP" standard, this would be too small to bother with.

But that is not the view of the Washington Post. In a front-page news analysis on September 24, the Washington Post took Congressional Republicans to task for not "offering solutions" to "tackling the ever-growing cost of entitlement programs" in their "Pledge to America."

What's the very first example of a "solution" that the Washington Post complains the Congressional Republicans did not offer?

"raising the Social Security retirement age"

Therefore, the conclusion is clear. The Washington Post wants you to work until age 70 before collecting Social Security benefits - or receive reduced benefits for retiring earlier than age 70 - in order to pay for the Washington Post's sacred war in Afghanistan.

 

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