Jan 152010
Authors: Josh Phillips, Kevin Hollinshead

Now that President Barack Obama has announced a troop escalation in Afghanistan, the issue of whether we should even be there is ultimately a moot point. I adamantly oppose it for a variety of reasons, yet I recognize that continuing to scream about it won’t accomplish much.

The issue now is whether the Obama administration handles the war correctly going forward, and how we can responsibly finance it. The answer to the latter question is simple to institute a “war tax” that places the burden primarily on the wealthy.

Part of what got us into this recession was former President George W. Bush’s decision to essentially not pay for our wars in the Middle East. Since 2001, we’ve spent more than $940 billion to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, and at least $30 billion more will be spent this fiscal year.

To make matters worse, Bush became the first president to cut taxes in a time of war. This further inflated the deficit and forced cuts to crucial social programs.

In a time of economic hardship, prolonging our military presence without a plan to pay for it would render the government’s cries for “fiscal responsibility” as hollow words.

Also lost during these tough times is the notion of shared sacrifice. Our soldiers have certainly done their part, yet over the last eight years, taxpayers have not. The wealthy were treated particularly well over the last eight years, and it’s time they, along with all of us, more evenly reciprocate that sacrifice.

Hawkish conservatives in support of the war shouldn’t continue to mindlessly oppose taxes on the upper class. Progressives that oppose a tax (as protest of the surge) must put our troops and economy above principle. Both sides of the aisle need to face reality: We’re going to Afghanistan whether we like it or not, and we need to pay for it.

Kevin Hollinshead is a junior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

Find war funding elsewhere

By Josh Phillips

Once again, our officials are asking for more money. Never mind the fact that they just spent $170 billion in taxpayer money to bail AIG out, $165 million of which were used on bonus payments. Never mind the fact that they spent $787 billion in taxpayer money on a stimulus plan that has yet to produce any results.

Never mind the fact that our government saw fit to spend $2.6 million in taxpayer money on training Chinese prostitutes how to drink responsibly.

House Appropriations Chairman David Obey wants to find ways to fund the war in Afghanistan, but his only real solution is to add a new tax. Surprise, surprise. “If they ask for an increased troop commitment in Afghanistan,” he said, “I am going to ask them to pay for it.”

His narrow-minded mission of increasing taxes is absolutely ludicrous, considering how much of our money goes down the tubes each year.

I could write an entire book on just how much we could spend on the war if we eliminated government waste. In the past five years, for example, government auditors discovered that 22 percent of all federal programs fail to show any positive impact, wasting $123 billion in taxpayer money.

So if David Obey or Carl Levin want more money, I suggest they go rummaging through the piles of misused taxes that are dealt out every year. We already pay the government what is owed in yearly income taxes, which is applied to our national defense. In 2006, for example, the oil industry paid $81 billion in income taxes.

And they’re telling us they can’t find money to fund our military? That’s a lie, plain and simple.

Josh Phillips is a senior business administration major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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