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Reason Writers on the Internet Teevee: Matt Welch Discusses "The War Is Making You Poor Act" on Atlantic Television News

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On May 25, Reason Editor in Chief Matt Welch talked about Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.)'s new War Is Making You Poor Act, which among other things would take the hundreds of billions in off-budget "emergency" war spending and return to Americans in the form of a tax cut, with Atlantic Television News' Colin Campbell. Two-plus-minute segement below:

For a classic piece on the abuse of emergency supplemental war spending, see Veronique de Rugy's "The Trillion Dollar War." Peter Suderman blogged yesterday about the Democrats' current emergency-spending abuse.

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  1. Speak for yourself, defeatist!

    1. Dad, I told you stop commenting here….

  2. How about a Bogus “Stimulus” Spending Bills Also Make You Poor Now And In The Future Act, Grayson?

  3. “World Peace Plan” proposal #2: mediation with Pres. Bush ends war.

  4. I don’t care what anyone says, cutting spending on defense, which would soon lead to the withdrawal of troops from the Middle East, is a very good thing.

  5. I agree with Matt that if you are arguing to reduce the size of the federal government then you have to discuss trimming the defense budget.

    But I don’t agree with under funding current military operations in order to meet that goal. If you want troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, then vote to send them home. Playing games with the purse strings isn’t a safe or efficient means of reaching the goal of getting the troops out. I understand that this is part of Congress’ job in terms of controlling the purse strings, but Congress also is the one who approved the military action in which we are currently engaged. If you want to stop the war, then vote to bring them home. Don’t leave them out in the middle of a war zone with dwindling supplies.

    1. I think the point of this legislation is to emphasize that funding for those wars is achieved through extra-budgetary “emergency” appropriations.

      If Congress and the President want to continue to fund the wars, they will have to do so through the regular budgetary process.

      1. If Congress and the President want to continue to fund the wars, they will have to do so through the regular budgetary process.

        I agree. But I don’t condemn Congress or Bush for extra-budgetary “emergency” appropriations considering 9/11 absolutely qualifies as an “emergency”. At some point though the emergency is no longer an emergency, and then yes I agree it should be through normal budgetary procedures. But I don’t agree with using the purse strings as a way to bring the troops home.

        1. Read the de Rugy story. Before 2002, wars got the emergency treatment when they *were* an emergency, then went into the normal budget more or less by the following year. 9/11 was more than eight years ago. Your logic is being used to perpetuate budgetary fictions and slide into spending various programs that wouldn’t survive the light of day.

          1. Matt,

            I just admitted that 9/11 is no longer the same “emergency” that it was eight years ago. I am not defending the current extra-budgetary “emergency” appropriations and I agree that funding for the current military operations should be through normal budgetary procedures.

    2. under funding current military operations

      Not that Grayson’s bill stood a chance of passing, but this is exactly how it will be painted.

      1. Um, isn’t that exactly what it is?

        1. The military, like education, is always “underfunded.” That should be the Pentagon’s problem; taxpayers shouldn’t have to support exponentially increasing appropriations ad infinitum.

          And before you go all “what about the troops” on me, maybe the Pentagon could fund its beloved wars by cutting some of the spending on its own bloated employees and programs, like the $600 toilet seat or whatever.

          1. taxpayers shouldn’t have to support exponentially increasing appropriations ad infinitum.

            I agree.

            maybe the Pentagon could fund its beloved wars

            “Beloved” wars? Really? Do you know anyone in the military? You think they “love” going to war?

            the $600 toilet seat or whatever.

            I agree that just like any other massive government program, there are definitely WAY more efficient means of achieving the desired goals. And removing the blank check of appropriations is a wise thing to do.

            1. “Do you know anyone in the military? You think they “love” going to war?”

              We’re not talking about soldiers, are we? We’re talking about the Pentagon itself, the employees of which profit fabulously from war, but aren’t really involved in the waging thereof. It’s kind of like the prison warden or criminal court judge versus the beat cop who actually has to go out and do the dirty work. (Not that I particularly care for any of those parties, either…)

              And for the record, I come from a military family.

              1. A large percentage of the personnel at the Pentagon are former or currently active/non-active duty military. The argument that people “profit fabulously” from war is an overused cliche that has little basis in fact.

                Profit is necessary for business to exist. War isn’t necessarily a business, but making the machines for it certainly is, and I would prefer our military to have access to the best available tools for the job.

                Again, I am not defending the current extra-budgetary “emergency” appropriations and I agree that funding for the current military operations should be through normal budgetary procedures.

                My point was simply that if the desired goal is to end the war, then vote to end the war. Grayson is an opportunistic mud-slinger and I have zero reason to believe his intentions are honorable.

                1. “The argument that people “profit fabulously” from war is an overused cliche that has little basis in fact.”

                  bullshit

                2. You’re obviously not a shareholder of Lockheed Martin.

            2. I know foreign policy experts and employees of the military industrial complex…and yes they love war.

              1. They love *preparing* for war. It’s better to sell a bunch of stuff, keep it shiny and new, and replace it periodically at its contractual obsolence than to have the stuff actually be used and risk perhaps not working as specified.

                1. And this applies for foreign policy experts as well, but substitute ‘ideas’ for ‘stuff’

  6. How about the War on Povery is making you poor act?

    There has been (and will continue to be) a hell of a lot more money spent on the crap that LBJ started than will ever be spent on Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

  7. Here’s a problem: if we bring all the troops home, exactly what are they going to do? Unemployment is already too high…

    1. What are we talking here, 250,000? Does the military teach marketable skills? Because potentially we could be looking at an influx of skilled labor which would help bring down labor costs, which normally would lower the cost of business.

      1. Do not feed the troll.

      2. Hey, that’s 10,000 shiny new SWAT teams, right? Plus, since 10-20% of them already have serious mental problems, they can get right to work, shooting people’s dogs.

    2. And since there’s only a set number of jobs and companies in the country, every job that a veteran takes is one less job for a civilian.

      1. We can just keep them out of the country, like immigrants.

    3. The same could be said for every other useless government employee. Are you suggesting the government keep hiring people to help the economy?

  8. Hell froze over…Grayson proposed a bill that I support.

    1. I fucking hate it when I agree with something Grayson says.

      1. Proves the old adage, “Even a giant, flaming bag of crazy-monkey poop is right twice a day.”

        1. Yeah, agreed. Like with the “Audit the Fed” bill.

          semi-OT, I occasionally see these bumper stickers around these parts.

  9. Obama has spent more than the entire cost of the wars in his first year of office. The wars aren’t the reason why our deficit is a trillion dollars. And, at least we got something from the wars. Osama is hiding in a cave instead of masterminding more attacks, Saddam isn’t using bribes from the French and Russians to build a nuclear stockpile, and his sons don’t visit the local rape camps anymore. The only thing we’ll get from the bailouts and Obamacare is a lot of moral hazard.

    1. The only thing we’ll get from the bailouts and Obamacare is a lot of moral hazard.

      That, and a couple of minor things like a functioning civilization and growing economy…

      1. Actually, Dan, we managed to achieve both of those pretty well before Obamacare.

        1. Do not feed the troll.

          1. It’s like a mosquito bite. Fucking hard not to try to scratch. The thing to remember is that stupid, like mosquito venom, only gets spread around.

    2. You mentioned some things that Iraqis got out of the war. What exactly did “we” get out of it besides emptier pockets and blood on our hands?

      1. What exactly did “we” get out of it besides emptier pockets and blood on our hands?

        Bragging rights?

      2. You mean, other than the deaths of tens of thousands of radical muslim extremists who were drawn to Iraq like flies from across the muslim world?

        This was the fight Al Queda could not afford to ignore or lose, the gauntlet they had to take up, or forfeit their image as capable of challenging the west. They lost. Big. Iraq took Al Queda from feared/respected to joke. Sure, Iraq wasn’t theirs. But we challenged them, and they came.

        When children in Bagdad play their equivalent of “cops and robbers” the Good Guys are the soldiers and police. The bad guys are terrorists. This doesn’t happen anywhere else in the muslim world. In 1945 we produced, for the first time, Japanese pacifists. Now, we’ve created muslims who really… really… really… hate terrorists. Both good.

        1. I like your flypaper strategy. I assume you would have no qualms about being “volunteered” for such a program.

    3. “Saddam isn’t using bribes from the French and Russians to build a nuclear stockpile”

      We got that from the part where we went in, kicked ass, and uprooted Saddam’s government and eradicated its leadership. What the hell that has to do with the ongoing occupation is beyond me.

    4. we “got” something for the wars? This may be the stupidest comment of the year on here. How about the tens of thousands of civilians killed in the wars? What did they get? Gotta break some eggs huh? And where exactly was this nuclear stockpile? The truth is that we spend more on “defense” than the rest of the world combined. No one is a threat to us, but it is convenient for our politicians to create bogeymen to keep us scared shitless. “Defense” is bankrupting us both financially and ethically.

  10. Now, can somebody explain to us how the War is making us poor?

    Doesn’t war spur economic activity via the manufacture of arms, equipment, etc.?

    Everybody says that WWII is what finally got us out of the Great Depression, so shouldn’t we advocate more war since we’re still struggling to get out of the prior recession?

    1. I advocate that you be dropped into North Korea so you ca duke it out with little Kim.

    2. Somebody is a magnificent spoofer.

      1. Do not feed the troll.

    3. Normally the victors would seize land, gold, lamentation of the women, etc to cover the cost of war. Now we’re paid with “nation building” and “moral authority” and other priceless (like a mother’s love) stuff.

      via the manufacture of arms, equipment

      Opportunity costs, dude. See broken window fallacy. Not to mention that stuff is centrally planned which screams misallocation.

      I think the WWII argument is that all the world’s bowling alleysproductive capacity was destroyed and we were the last man standing. So unless we expand our war on terror to China, we’re not increasing our manufacturing backlog sniping insurgents in the ME.

      1. f’ing spoofer blah blah etc etc

      2. Don’t forget how we improved the unemployment rate by getting a bunch of our own people killed fighting the war thereby reducing the pool of available workers.

        Maybe those believers in a command economy who are using WW2 as an example of the “success” of such strategies should volunteer to commit suicide to help replicate that effective measure.

      3. Don’t forget how we improved the unemployment rate by getting a bunch of our own people killed fighting the war thereby reducing the pool of available workers.

        Maybe those believers in a command economy who are using WW2 as an example of the “success” of such strategies should volunteer to commit suicide to help replicate that effective measure.

    4. Who is this “everybody” you speak of? I have not met them.

      War does not enrich, because the things produced with that vast expense of Human effort do not improve quality of life.

    5. “via the manufacture of arms, equipment.”

      Well the last time the US adopted a new military service pistol it changed from an old but reliable and durable, American-made pistol to a fragile and more difficult-to-shoot pistol made by an Italian corporation. So I’m not sure that’s an advantage.

  11. War is at least useful for getting the haphazard, inefficient dog eat dog competition under control.

    How else can we organize production efficiently towards a goal with higher ideals than mere selfish hedonism? how else can we eliminate the duplication and waste that occurs in a completely “no-rules” environment? Without the collective sacrifices that war demands how can we get people to work for something larger than themselves?

  12. This is the best site I have ever found concerning the debt. Have fun balancing the budget without tax increases!

    http://crfb.org/stabilizethedebt/

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