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Fiscal Irresponsibility

From Thomas Friedman's latest column:

Every so often a quote comes out of the Bush administration that leaves you asking: Am I crazy or are they? I had one of those moments last week when Dana Perino, the White House press secretary, was asked about a proposal by some Congressional Democrats to levy a surtax to pay for the Iraq war, and she responded, "We've always known that Democrats seem to revert to type, and they are willing to raise taxes on just about anything."

Yes, those silly Democrats. They'll raise taxes for anything, even -- get this -- to pay for a war!

And if we did raise taxes to pay for our war to bring a measure of democracy to the Arab world, "does anyone seriously believe that the Democrats are going to end these new taxes that they're asking the American people to pay at a time when it's not necessary to pay them?" added Ms. Perino. "I just think it's completely fiscally irresponsible."

Friends, we are through the looking glass. It is now "fiscally irresponsible" to want to pay for a war with a tax.

The Bush administration and the Republican party have abandoned any and all pretense of fiscal responsibility. The problem is that, notwithstanding the proposed surtax mentioned above, Congressional Democrats aren't stepping up to the plate to do the job. Like their Republican counterparts, they're only too happy to saddle future generations with debt to pay for new programs today -- programs they believe will help them curry favor with constituents and be re-elected.

How are we going to escape this cycle?


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Democrats refuse to do two things: make an affirmative case for taxation, and separate discussion of policy from arguments about efficiency. We are still arguing policy within the framework of taxes are bad. Before Democrats begin working towards new programs, they need to convince the public that taxes aren't a bad thing, and a society should implement certain policies because they're the right thing to do.

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