Since the supporters of the Great Patriotic War in Iraq seem totally unfazed by the casualties (hey, it’s not them), I’m hoping they at least appreciate the horrible way it has been financed.
The Iraq war, says economist Joseph Stiglitz, is “the first U.S. war financed entirely on credit.” When the war started, the Bush administration said it would cost no more than $60 billion. But the U.S. budget was already in deficit, so the administration had to borrow money to finance the invasion. About 40 percent of the money was borrowed from China and other international investors—the first time since the Revolutionary War that foreigners financed a U.S. war. At the same time, the administration and Congress lowered taxes instead of raising them, as is customary in wartime. The Federal Reserve kept interest rates low, which encouraged middle-class Americans to go on a consumption binge financed by credit cards and home-equity loans.
Today, say Stiglitz and other economists, the bills for the country’s spending spree are starting to come due, in the form of higher prices, a weakened dollar, and lower living standards. “There’s no such thing as a free war,” Stiglitz said. “The U.S.—and the world—will be paying the price for decades to come.”
And we now know that far from borrowing just the measly $60 billion unrealistically projected by the Bushies, we are looking at figures in the TRILLIONS of dollars being put on the national credit card before it’s all done (if ever) and essentially getting nothing out of it but death and destruction and higher oil prices.
Along with the Bush tax cuts (largely for the wealthy), this is staggering fiscal irresponsibility on a massive scale. Cut taxes and spend more! A lot more. In the past, some have called various levels of government spending “irresponsible”. You know what’s even more irresponsible, spending the money and not bringing in revenues to pay for those expenses. Tax and spend is one thing; don’t tax and spend more is lunacy.
This is why I find the (many) idiocies of Rod Blagojevich so hard to get upset about. It’s like fretting over the crabgrass in your yard while your house is on fire. I’m not saying there isn’t room for both, but proportionally the bigger, much bigger, problems emanate from the Bush administration. I look forward to the day when I have the time to devote emotional energy to where the governor lives and whether his choice means he hates me.