Another Excuse for Failure

By at least one independent account, Congress is about to try for the 41st time to legislate our exit from Iraq. The reasons given by liberals are numerous — e.g., we can’t win, we don’t deserve to win, it is too late to win and my current favorite: The more terrorists we kill, the more we create — sort of a “Night of the Living Dead” excuse. We now have another one: Our effort is “too expensive” and inconsistent with “other priorities.”

Other priorities? By other priorities, Congress usually means the grab bag of special interest favors it loves to bestow on favored constituents, earmarked projects, community action grants, free health insurance for individuals at 300 percent of the poverty line, even a federal subsidy for a museum dedicated to celebrating the Woodstock festival. The liberal media and special interests normally nod solemnly when liberals intone that insufficient monies are budgeted by the Bush administration for “needed social programs.”

In reality, the administration has proposed a slight INCREASE in funds for domestic discretionary programs for fiscal 2008 over 2007. However, in the arcane world of congressional budgeting, this is referred to as a “cut” in social programs. Congress has proposed to add about $22 billion to these programs beyond the approximately $500 billion the administration is proposing. The number may seem small, but the extra money then gets “baked into” the baseline calculations for future years so that domestic spending budgets grow much faster. After years of large and unsustainable increases in social spending, the administration is finally trying to bring some discipline to the process, but Congress is having none of it.

It is against this backdrop that Iraq opponents now say that the war against terror is “too expensive.” Fortunately, Americans realize that you don’t fight terrorists on the cheap. Either we commit to this effort or we don’t — and pay the consequences. Government’s first obligation is not to bestow favors on special groups, but to defend our country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. As William Buckley has said, “I favor spending whatever it takes to protect American liberty, and not a penny more.”

For the last two decades of the Cold War, liberals routinely inveighed against and opposed defense spending, calling it wasteful and without purpose. What exactly, they said, did we get for the billions we spent on defense in the 1970s and '80s? The answer is that we vanquished international communism and extinguished the second great totalitarian threat of the 20th century. That was money well spent, don’t you think?

So is the money we’re spending to fight international terrorism today.