Jewish lawmaker has novel idea: pay as you go war

 A Jewish lawmaker has a novel response to all those politicians in both parties  who want the United States to go to war at the drop of a hat – but who also think government spending and the national debt are out of control.

(Just a reminder: the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have cost trillions, but instead of raising taxes to pay for them we cut taxes, ensuring that our children and grandchildren will still be paying for these adventures decades from now. And the first week of the current limited Libyan bombing campaign has cost the U.S. Treasury more than $600 million. Just where do people suppose that money is coming from?)

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has a simple proposal: when it comes to war, it should be pay as you go.

“It’s basically saying if we go to war, it shouldn’t contribute to our debt,” Franken said in a MinnPost story.  “We’ve spent over a trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that’s part of why we’re where we are with this deficit.”

Want to bomb Libya? Great; figure out in advance how to pay for it. Want to invade Iran? Not until you know exactly where those billions, maybe trillions, will come from and that it won’t be financed through longterm debt.

This isn’t ever going to become law, of course; Democrats and Republicans alike hate the idea of finding ways to pay for the wars they’re so eager to start. 

But Franken is making what seems to me like an important point; especially in this wars-by-choice era, and especially as we confront a massive mountain of national debt –  much of it the result of wars we chose not to pay for while fighting them –  we’d be a lot better off if our leaders figured out where the money’s going to come from before the first cruise missiles ($1,066,465 each)  are launched.


About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.