But first this time saver . . .

Alan Silver: ‘Ever get tired of typing ‘www.’ or ‘http://’ or ‘.com’ when entering a URL in the Internet Explorer Address Bar? If so, just type the core address and press CTRL + ENTER. The http://www. and .com will appear automatically.’

And now, as Congress prepares to pass another of the President’s massive tax cuts, largely for those who need it least . . .

TAX CUTS DURING WAR – OR AN ‘ADOPT A SOLDIER’ PROGRAM?
By Matt Miller

Let’s get this straight.

Currently, 250,000 brave U.S soldiers are poised to strike Iraq; it’s likely war will have begun by the time you read this.

The White House is sending an emergency spending request to Congress to fund the war and its aftermath that could come in at $80 to $100 billion. And that’s just a down payment.

Meanwhile, the wealthiest 250,000 Americans – who earn, on average, more than $1 million a year – are waiting for a huge chunk of the $440 billion in tax cuts the top 1 percent of taxpayers are slated to receive in the next few years.

Plus, our commander in chief says it’s essential that these wealthy Americans get the bulk of what Citizens for Tax Justice estimates to be another $2 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade, on top of the $440 billion.

All this while the budget deficit is soaring to record highs, which, depending on war and reconstruction costs, could soon close in on $400 to $500 billion.

Does anyone else think something is terribly wrong with this picture?

How we finance this war, and the rebuilding of Iraq afterward, will speak volumes about our national morality, and the relationship between our citizens and our government. For this reason it is useful to zero in on the 250,000 troops and the 250,000 highest income taxpayers.

At this historic crossroads, President Bush’s differing expectations of these Americans is shocking. I know the tax cuts are about GOP political positioning. But suddenly, with our troops moving, what was merely awful, cynical economic ‘policy’ now shines in neon as something worse. The president’s tax plans, given the challenges we face, simply can’t be squared with honorable notions of democracy.

It’s simply wrong to cut taxes for the best-off while we fight a war and run up huge budget deficits. It’s even more irresponsible to do this on the eve of the baby boomers’ retirement, for which we already face $25 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

It’s a measure of the detachment, or perhaps the cynicism, of Republican leaders that only John McCain seems to have the decency to say what’s fiscally and morally obvious. ‘Not now,’ McCain said on the Senate floor this week, about more tax cuts. ‘Not until Congress and the administration have a better understanding of the costs of war and peace.’

Common sense, right? Not to Bill Frist, the Senate Majority Leader, who continues to spout the standard talking points on behalf of a tax package crafted without any consideration of the costs of war and reconstruction.

These tax cuts corrosively mock the president’s noble positioning of our effort in Iraq. Bush is offering a perverse fiscal twist on Churchill’s inspiring refrain.

‘We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight on the fields and in the streets,’ Churchill said.

‘We’ll borrow to fight them in Iraq. We’ll borrow more to rebuild Iraq. Then we’ll borrow even more to cut taxes for the rich,’ President Bush is effectively saying.

I have a better idea.

Say that Bush asks Congress for $80 billion for the war for now. Dividing $80 billion by 250,000 troops comes to a cost of $320,000 a head. Let’s ask the 250,000 highest-earning Americans to forego this much of the tax cut they’re supposed to receive in the coming years. Call it the Adopt-A-Soldier program.

You get the idea. We’ll need to revisit broader tax policy soon enough – that’s what the 2004 election will in part be about. But for now, to fund the war without adding to the deficit, let’s do this one small thing. My guess is that the vast majority of the nation’s 250,000 highest earners would vote in favor of this idea in a heartbeat.

Will the president have the decency to propose it?

If we’re lucky and if we do it right, liberating and rebuilding Iraq could be among America’s finest hours. Sticking our kids with the bill for Iraq in order to cut taxes for the wealthy would guarantee that it won’t be.

Columnist Matt Miller is a senior fellow at Occidental College in Los Angeles and host of ‘Left, Right & Center’ on KCRW-FM in Los Angeles.

© 2003 MATTHEW MILLER

 

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