Left In Lowell

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October 3, 2007

Why the War Just Might End

by at 1:55 pm.

So many people are focusing on Rep. Obey’s proposal (along with our own Rep. McGovern) for a tax surcharge to pay for the war, and how this poison pill had the best chance of throwing the “support for the troops=support for the president” crowd off. But skymutt points out that this little tidbit in yesterday’s announcement, which was shot down by Pelosi and Reid within hours, is worth nothing compared to the other point of the announcement.

David Obey, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, today announced that he will not report the Iraq War Supplemental out of committee, and basically told the President that the ball is in his court, that he needs to submit a supplemental that meets several criteria, or there will be no supplemental funding bill.
[…]
How many times have you heard some variation of “We don’t have the votes”? Well, today, for the first time, a legislator with the power to back up his words has pledged to take an approach that does not require a floor vote in order to push this war toward an end. Chairman Obey has taken ownership of the issue and said that he will not report an Iraq War supplemental bill out of his committee unless it meets his criteria. Contrast this with other “plans” which have really just been bills that have required majority or supermajority votes for success. Votes that, to date, have not materialized or really even come close.

And Pelosi and Reid have not said a word about this aspect of Obey’s statement. So, there’s hope yet that the wishes of the majority of Americans - that of cutting the funding to this war - will come to pass before Bush is out the door.

26 Responses to “Why the War Just Might End”

  1. Dan Murphy Says:

    Lynne, this “tax surcharge” is a direct result of Patrick Murphy’s campaign’s efforts. Throughout the summer we have lobbied Congressmen to support and sponsor Patrick’s “Shared Sacrifice” proposal, and have worked particularly hard with McGovern’s office. We have maintained correspondence regarding this measure with his members of his staff and are pleased they have introduced this bill. NPR, Mark Shields, WBUR, IAVA, Jack Beatty of the Atlantic Monthly have all attributed the proposal to Patrick’s campaign for congress.

    While I’m glad to see that it has affected the national debate in Washington, both Patrick and I are concerned of its dismissal as simply a “war tax.” I encourage you to read the full breadth of the proposal and its intended effects on our website www.sendmurphytocongress.com under the “Ideas” section.

  2. waittilnextyr Says:

    In looking at the website referenced above, I feel the most important point is:

    “It would mean a return of constitutional authority to the Congress, of extensive debate about the justification and the justness for war, and it would mean that our leaders must make a better case, build more support, and heed the will of the American people, in the lead-up to any future war.”

    Congress let us down 5 years ago because we did not pay sufficient attention, but if the authority was given only on the condition of the tax proposed by candidate Murphy, you could be sure we would not enter any unjustified wars on a whim.

    The fact the Rep McGovern’s and Rep Obey’s attempt to pass such a bill was stiffled by their leadership is further evidence that the only interest of either party is win control of the political system.

    It is time we returned to citizen legislators.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Waitiltnextyr wrote:
    “It is time we returned to citizen legislators.”

    A nice dream but as long as legislators, local, state and federal levels, continue to get the benefits that were meant for non-elected employees…like health and pension…then we will have “professional politicians”.

    One thing about the amendment offered by McGovern et al, all three sponsors admit the legislation will be defeated, or so I have read.

  4. Josh Says:

    I’m torn by the idea of a distinct tax to pay for the war.

    1.) I’d hate to find myself in the pro-tax position, but it might be one of the best ways to end the war.

    2.) They did the same thing during the Spanish-American (a telephone tax). The problem is that the war ended over 100 years ago, but they didn’t repeal the tax until about 3 years ago.

    Ah the libertarian’s dilemma!

  5. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    Sorry, that was my anonymous post in response to Waittil. I didn’t notice that the name was blank!

  6. Dan Murphy Says:

    Josh-

    If you look at Patrick’s proposal, it requires both a declaration of war and that the tax be instituted at that point. It would be temporary, ending also when a war is ended.

    Eleanor-

    If you look at Patrick’s information, he has said that he will accept no more than average salary of a worker here in the district, and will forgo health care until all Americans are cared for under the single-payer system he proposes. A vote for him would make that “nice dream” a reality.

  7. Mr. Lynne Says:

    Hey… at this point its either pro-tax or pro-credit-card.

  8. waittilnextyr Says:

    The credit card is a tax, although it is hidden. But the rapid increase in spending money we don’t have has devalued our dollar, and anything tangible that we now buy costs much more, like a house, oil, gold, etc. That is a tax, and it isn’t always postponed to the next generation.

    And if you are wondering where the money that we waste in Iraq goes, here is some of it finding its way to China:

    “Iraq has ordered $100 million worth of light military equipment from China for its police force, contending that the United States was unable to provide the materiel and is too slow to deliver arms shipments, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said yesterday.”

  9. joe Says:

    Obey! Obey! Obey! Obey!

    Hmmm, that doesn’t look as good written out as it sounded in my head.

  10. waittilnextyr Says:

    “1.) I’d hate to find myself in the pro-tax position, but it might be one of the best ways to end the war.” —Josh

    Josh, you can resolve your dilemma if you think of such legislation as one way to avoid such a war (and expenditures) in the first place.

  11. Mr. Lynne Says:

    For me, the point is that we are going to pay for the War. The only question is: do we pay now or later with interest? The truth is there can’t be a serious discussion about the economy, the deficit, the debt, the size of Government, or revenue without talking about war spending. The fact that Washington talks about all these things with the war costs as a separate off the books item is unconscionable. The specter of a right-now-in-your face tax rather than credit card spending that you can easily forget about merely bring the cost problem more into focus.

    In any optional endeavor, one must consider costs. (And one must ignore the dissembling administration on what the costs are or should be.)

    Also, in truth, given that we seem to need to bring up a tax in order to be having the more realistic discussion about the war’s cost in treasure that we should have been having all along, we should also be talking about a draft so we can clearly focus the discussion of the blood cost of this war as well.

    Thats the problem of the credit card. It hides the true sacrifice you are making. Very useful if you don’t think your policies can stand up to voter scrutiny in the context of their true costs. All war and no sacrifice makes the nation gullible and poor.

  12. Tim Little Says:

    Well put, Chris!

  13. Mr. Lynne Says:

    Thus confirming to the world the Mr. Lynne does indeed have his own name. ;)

    In all seriousness, the reason I chose “Mr. Lynne” was that when I first started posting (infrequently) here I wanted to disclose my inherent “bias” without having to repeat it in every post.

  14. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    Hi Dan
    I have to say, you guys have done a Hell of a job getting your brother noticed in this election. Is he going to win? No.
    But you guys have opened the debate.

    Now, to my comments regarding how to have a “citizen legilsature” on all levels. Salary means nothing. You have to have a salary to allow you to live in DC etc. My point is to eliminate health care for elected officials, but more importantly eliminate pensions for all elected officials at all levels of government!

    No pension, no professional politicians.

  15. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    BTW, If it were up to me to end the war tomorrow I would do the following!

    Implement the WAR TAX that has been discussed and implement it in such a way that it is tied to gross income, not net.

    More importantly, you want the war to end? Reinstitute the draft. Right now only volunteers have a stake in this war. Until everyone does there will be no mass protests etc.

  16. -b Says:

    A war tax will never happen.

  17. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    -b says
    A war tax will never happen.

    DUH! Neither will a draft, but a war tax and draft is how we will end this war.

  18. MikeC01824 Says:

    Eleanor’s 100% correct on the war tax and draft. But I disagree on the citizen legislature idea.

    I personally think professional politicians are a good thing, just like professional doctors are better than amature doctors. When I send my kids to school, they are taught by a professional teacher. Even the police in my town are professionals!

    I want someone with a track record of community involvement, working for working families, and who has a basic idea of how to get things done.

    We need campaign finance reform so that our politicians remain accountable, not so we can elect citizens at random who haven’t shown any skill or even care about the real job of legislating.

  19. Mr. Lynne Says:

    I’m sorry, but what is meant here by “Citizen Legislators”?

    I’m with Mike about finance reform. Publicly fund all elections and mandate candidate coverage on the part of public air-wave licensees. Furthermore I’d actually advocate a limited and reasonable campaign blackout period in the election cycle schedule for political messengers (including 3rd party interest groups) except for the candidates themselves. Fist amendment issues always get brought up when I say this, but I think the state (that is, we) have an interest in actually hearing the candidates and unfortunately that means that we need to restrict others’ speech for some limited time because candidates can and do get drowned out.

  20. waittilnextyr Says:

    Mr. L., I think the following description of the Idaho legislature best answers your question.

    “The Idaho Legislature is responsible for translating the public will into public policy for the state, levying taxes, appropriating public funds, and overseeing the administration of state agencies. These responsibilities are carried out through the legislative process — laws passed by elected representatives of the people, legislators. Since statehood in 1890, Idaho’s legislators have enjoyed a rich and successful history of charting the state’s growth. Much of that success can be attributed to the fact that Idaho’s legislators are “citizen” legislators, not career politicians. They are farmers and ranchers, business men and women, lawyers, doctors, sales people, loggers, teachers. Elected for two-year terms and in session at the Capitol just three months each year, Idaho’s citizen legislators are able to maintain close ties to their communities and a keen interest in the concerns of the electorate.”

    And I would disagree with Mike that “professional” politicians would do better by us. Look where that has got us today - an unjustified war, maldistributed wealth, unfair trade policy, exploding deficits, and campaigns whose primary objective appears to be raising money! I’m afraid he is comfortable with his position because of the limited circle he travels in, and is unaware of the frustration that has led to apathy in so much of the potential electorate.

  21. waittilnextyr Says:

    Another reason why the war must end:

    WASHINGTON — Iraq’s top corruption fighter, who’s seeking U.S. asylum because of death threats against him, told a congressional panel Thursday that rising corruption cost Iraq $18 billion over the past three years, with enormous sums of oil revenues ending up in the hands of Sunni and Shiite militias.

    Radhi Hamza al Radhi said Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and his government prevented Radhi’s U.S.-backed Commission on Public Integrity from taking action against top national officials, including current and former ministers.

    “I want to thank the American people for trying to help my country. I want people to know that real corruption— from the highest to the lowest levels of government— is destroying my country,” Rahdi, an Iraqi judge, said in a statement. “It is impossible to have both democracy and corruption at the same time.”

  22. Mr. Lynne Says:

    I think professional politicians are fine. The problem with the system is the same as any problem which depends on the free will of independent actors… the mechanics of the system only work if the incentives are proper. The finance system is what creates the wrong incentives. Citizen legislature may be a mitigation that helps by limiting the pool of motivations for higher office and thus push incentives of the body that gets elected similarly, so I can see where the popularity of the idea can come in. But personally, I’d prefer attacking the disease rather than mitigating its symptoms. I’d be willing to bet that people who want to make a career out of public elected service could be good people, if only the system would let such people pass the first hurdle - money.

    When you first started talking about citizen legislators I envisioned something like NH where they don’t get paid. Problem with that is it tends to put only rich people in the job (not that, for the most part, that isn’t what happens anyway).

  23. waittilnextyr Says:

    A good candidate for a “Shared Sacrifice Tax” on profits based on the war.

    NEW YORK (AP) — The senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of defense contractor Raytheon Co. exercised options for 40,000 shares of common stock under a prearranged trading plan, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Tuesday.
    In a Form 4 filed with the SEC, Jay B. Stephens reported he exercised the options Friday for $29.45 apiece and then sold all of them the same day for $64.10 apiece.

  24. MikeC0124 Says:

    I’m not saying that all politicians should be there for life. We need healthy primaries and real campaign finance reform. It bothers me to see even the elected officials I like run unopposed.

    But the USA is a bit more complex than the state of Idaho, and lobbiests don’t come to their job with zero experience. The more nieve our politicians are, the more we put our policy in the hands of lobbiests.

    I want small dollar candidates who’ve done a few terms on school committee or managing an NGO to have a shot at office. I think it’s noble to want to stay in public service, if that’s what you’re using the office for, so I’m against term limits.

    WaitTilNextYear: You’re probably right about me having this position because of the circle I travel in. Not that I have a personal relationship with them, but people like Cori Atkins, Deval Patrick, Jamie Eldridge, Jim Marzilli, John Edwards, Howard Dean all remind me that there are people out there with good intentions and the skills to back it up.

    We need a political system that allows more people like them to get elected.

  25. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    MikeC0124 wrote in part:
    I’m not saying that all politicians should be there for life. We need healthy primaries and real campaign finance reform. It bothers me to see even the elected officials I like run unopposed.

    Mr. Lynne wrote in part:
    I’m sorry, but what is meant here by “Citizen Legislators”?

    Mike is right on one point, we need real campaign finance reform, until that happens nothing changes. However, “professional” politicans breed politicians for life. Good pensions, great health bennies, good pay, who is going to leave?

    Certainly it’s in everyone’s best interest to have candidates versed in the issues, but the situation we have now in all levels of government is that we the people work for them, not the other way around.

    As for campaign finance reform, I read in today’s paper that AK has raised $60K! For a City Council race!!! WHY? If AK is elected, all those folks etc that contributed aren’t going to want his ear now are they? I’m only picking on AK because the dollar amount he raised is so outragous the same argument can be made for other candidates as well.

    So how does a lobbyist influence increase if a candidate has no political experience vs a seasoned professional that knows where the money is and how to get it?

    A citizen legislature, in my mind, means that anyone can run for office and be a credible candidate without being wealthy, serve a few terms in office, then go home and let someone else do it.

    As long as pensions, health care etc are involved we will have politicians for life.

  26. Mr. Lynne Says:

    “but the situation we have now…” Nobody is arguing that the situation is ok now. We are disagreeing as to what the disease is. In the end the measure of the worth of a politician should be the effectiveness in representing his or her constituents. If that means non-pro or a pro isn’t really the issue. The issue is that the performance should be the measure and the elections should statistically correlate with performance and not campaign war chest sizes. When the single biggest thing a candidate can do to increase his or her chances is raising and spending more money, then that is clearly a big clue as to what the real problem is. If someone wants to run for office for the pension, frankly I don’t care as long as he or she represents the constituents well and is judged and accountable on that basis. Holding them accountable on any other basis is to miss the point in why to elect someone in the first place.

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