Let's Offset the Costs of the Troop Surge

Last night President Obama gave a long-awaited speech on his plan for increasing troop levels, stating his intention to increase troops by 30,000, which is “is likely to cost us roughly $30 billion for the military this year.” The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget put out a press release this morning on the topic, as a follow up to our recent blog post on paying for the troop increase.

As we wrote:

“Deficit financing the wars thus far has not only broken practice with past wars, which have been paid for in part with new taxes, it has added tremendously to the national debt — now over $12 trillion. Responsible leadership requires offsetting the new costs through spending cuts, tax increases, or a combination of the two.”

Congressman David Obey this week joined several other Democrats in proposing a war surtax to pay for the troop increase. Although supporters of this tax appear to be more concerned with preventing the troop increase than with fiscal responsibility, we strongly support efforts to offset any new spending with spending cuts and/or increased revenues.

The surtax, though, has not garnered much support, and has been opposed by politicians from both parties.

Stan Collender and Ezra Klein have both called out deficit-hawks in general and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in particular for failure to support the tax.

At least with regards to CRFB, though, these criticisms are misplaced. In addition to our press release today and our blog post on Monday, CRFB President Maya MacGuineas has stated her support for offseting the war’s costs in multiple media outlets. This includes a USA Today article today, where she argued that “you can no longer deficit-finance everything. It is time to figure out how to pay for it." She additionally appeared on CBS evening news, making the same argument. She appears around minute 4:25:

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