There's Always Money for War

wiggles

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Jared Bernstein
March 12, 2007

Jared Bernstein is senior economist with the Economic Policy Institute and author of All Together Now: Common Sense for a Fair Economy.


Okay, this is going to sound really naïve. It’s the kind of question you’d expect from an earnest, if not slightly annoying, 12-year-old, not from a hard-boiled wonk like yours truly. But why is it that our representatives can easily raise endless amounts of money for war, but can’t adequately fund human needs?

Exhibit #1: The Washington Post recently ran an important article documenting the loss of child-care subsidies to low-income, working parents. One of the lessons from welfare reform is that such work supports are a critical component of a pro-work, anti-poverty agenda. But because the program is terribly underfunded—fewer than a fifth of eligible people receive help—there’s a huge waiting list, and families are left to give up on work or patch together less-than-desirable child-care situations.

Exhibit #2 : If the president gets his way on budget requests over the next few years, and he always has, the Congressional Budget Office tells us that spending on the Iraq war will soon top $500 billion—$746 billion if you throw in Afghanistan. According to OMBWatch, the Congress will soon begin evaluating the largest supplemental funding bill ever requested by an administration: just shy of $100 billion, mostly for the war on terror and its sundry components.

Exhibit #3 : We currently spend about $5 billion a year at the federal level on the block grant that funds child care. Last year, we added a $1 billion increase over five years. A bill to dedicate $6 billion more died in the Senate. Because these values are not adjusted for either inflation or population growth, the demand for child-care slots is outpacing capacity. According to the Bush administration’s own budget, if we fail to devote more resources to child care, by 2010, the families of 300,000 fewer children will get the help they need.

Exhibit #4 : I recently testified before the Senate Finance Committee on the question of whether there needed to be $8 billion worth of tax cuts to businesses to offset the impact of the federal minimum wage increase. I argued that the cuts were unnecessary, but in this context, consider this point: Because tax cuts must now be paid for, the committee was able to come up with $8 billion of offsets to pay for these cuts.

In other words, when they want to, Congress can allocate or raise money. The problem, as put by my colleague Lawrence Mishel, is “... the direct consequence of maintaining other priorities. Some [policy makers] are wedded to maintaining the recent tax cuts. Many more believe we have to spend whatever it takes for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ... [o]thers believe that moving toward a balanced budget is essential. Whatever one thinks of these positions it is clear that the result is that human capital investments get the leftover fiscal scraps.”

For those of us unhappy with this state of affairs, who believe that these are the wrong priorities, the big—giant, really—question is what has to change?

The answer, I think, comes from a meeting of top-down and bottom-up. Today’s priorities are the result of politicians’ perceptions that their constituents, at least the ones they care about, want government to wage war and cut taxes, not to provide child and health care. Thus, the first step in turning this around is to tap and nurture demand among the electorate for the best solutions to the problems we face. I’ve stressed child care for low-income workers because it’s so important to their ability to escape poverty, but think of national health care in this light, along with retirement security and the inequalities associated with globalization.

Progressive policy advocates need to shape and promote an agenda that reaches people on these issues and is at the scale of the challenges they face. If such an agenda is articulated by a 2008 candidate, it may well start to resonate and reverberate in precisely the way that’s needed to reshape the priorities of those who hold the purse strings. Then I can go back to being a hard-boiled wonk instead of a naïve ingénue who wants to trade guns for butter.
 

CSM

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There sure is! Ain't it great? If we spend enough money on war there wont be any left for the socialists who want to bring about the downfall of the Republic.
 

red states rule

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Since the Federal budget in nearly $3 trillon dollars it does not make sense for libs to whine about lack of funding for their welfare hand outs - but they will anyway
 

Dirt McGirt

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There sure is! Ain't it great? If we spend enough money on war there wont be any left for the socialists who want to bring about the downfall of the Republic.
With all due respect CSM, it's this kind of thinking that gave the Dems a majority in the House and Senate. Once Hillary takes office, military spending will be cut and taxes are going to be raised. Allocating some of our money to wars now, doesn't mean that the Dems can't raise taxes and implement their social agenda once they assume control of the legislative and executive branches.

It's sad really. The Repubs could have used their majority to demonstrate that government could have functioned with the tax cuts by being fiscally responsible. So far all they've proven is that tax cuts and less government only work in theory.
 

red states rule

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With all due respect CSM, it's this kind of thinking that gave the Dems a majority in the House and Senate. Once Hillary takes office, military spending will be cut and taxes are going to be raised. Allocating some of our money to wars now, doesn't mean that the Dems can't raise taxes and implement their social agenda once they assume control of the legislative and executive branches.

It's sad really. The Repubs could have used their majority to demonstrate that government could have functioned with the tax cuts by being fiscally responsible. So far all they've proven is that tax cuts and less government only work in theory.

Hilary is folding up like a cheap suit. He does not a prayer of being President - you might want to move on to the next flavor of the month - Obama

Again, with a budget near $3 trillion what is not being funded?

Why raise taxes? The economy is growing and revenues to the Federal governmetn continues to increase
 

roomy

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War generates money, it is a big business.
 

Dirt McGirt

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Hilary is folding up like a cheap suit. He does not a prayer of being President - you might want to move on to the next flavor of the month - Obama

Again, with a budget near $3 trillion what is not being funded?

Why raise taxes? The economy is growing and revenues to the Federal governmetn continues to increase
Are you seriously suggesting that government spending is under control and the Repubs were fiscally responsible over the last 6 years? :rolleyes:

I bet you've also tricked yourself into believing that government has gotten smaller under Bush, while going around and trying to convince people that you're a Reagan Republican. Denial, denial, denial.
 

red states rule

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Are you seriously suggesting that government spending is under control and the Repubs were fiscally responsible over the last 6 years? :rolleyes:

I bet you've also tricked yourself into believing that government has gotten smaller under Bush, while going around and trying to convince people that you're a Reagan Republican. Denial, denial, denial.


Even with the increased spending (which I blame both perties) the defict is down 57% and revenues have soared to ecord levels

Now Dems want to spend MORE money. They loaded a bill for money for the troops with pork

The point is, tax cuts have increased the amount of money flowing into the government, so why do Dems want to raise taxes?
 

Dirt McGirt

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Even with the increased spending (which I blame both perties) the defict is down 57% and revenues have soared to ecord levels

Now Dems want to spend MORE money. They loaded a bill for money for the troops with pork

The point is, tax cuts have increased the amount of money flowing into the government, so why do Dems want to raise taxes?
Dems want to raise taxes to help fund their social agenda. REAL conservatives want to lower taxes because they think tax cuts mean less government. How can Repubs prove that lower taxes and smaller government are better when they cut and spend?
 

red states rule

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Dems want to raise taxes to help fund their social agenda. REAL conservatives want to lower taxes because they think tax cuts mean less government. How can Repubs prove that lower taxes and smaller government are better when they cut and spend?
I agree. I hope Republicans learned their lesson. The Dems have it in their blood to raise taxes, which would kill the economy and make the lives of the people they claim to care about - worse

The numbers do not lie. Even with increased pork spending, a war, and high oil prices the economy has grown and people have earned more money
 

roomy

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All I said was, war is big business and generates a lot of money.I have no interest in whether it generates more or less than tax cuts, you are far too obvious Red, but as they say "shy bairns get nowt".:razz:
 

red states rule

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All I said was, war is big business and generates a lot of money.I have no interest in whether it generates more or less than tax cuts, you are far too obvious Red, but as they say "shy bairns get nowt".:razz:
If libs want to raise more money, then why raise taxes?

When you raise taxes you generate LESS money

So perhaps you should care
 

roomy

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If libs want to raise more money, then why raise taxes?

When you raise taxes you generate LESS money

So perhaps you should care

So are you also taking a liberal stance on the war and saying we shouldn't be fighting one?
 

red states rule

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So are you also taking a liberal stance on the war and saying we shouldn't be fighting one?
No. Defending America is one of the few duties of the government as dictated in the Constitution

Libs want to steal more of the people money to fund their "mommy and daddy" programs which accomplish nothing
 

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