War is a serious business. Total war, such as the WWI & II, is more serious still.
Total war means rationing. It means car factories switched over to tank and aircraft production, and everybody making do with the cars they bought before the war. It means cutting spending down to the bone, to pay for the war. (War spending is wasteful enough all on its own. It was a Senate committee investigating wasteful WWII spending which gave its chairman, Harry Truman, a bbright enough spotlight to become President Roosevelt’s 1944 runningmate.)
We’re lucky today, because our enemies are feeble enough, and our country is rich enough, that we don’t have to move to a total war economy. Our Republican Congress, however, feels it also means they don’t have to do any economizing at all. Read:
Confounding President Bush’s pledges to rein in government growth, federal discretionary spending expanded by 12.5 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, capping a two-year bulge that saw the government grow by more than 27 percent, according to preliminary spending figures from congressional budget panels.
The sudden rise in spending subject to Congress’s annual discretion stands in marked contrast to the 1990s, when such discretionary spending rose an average of 2.4 percent a year. Not since 1980 and 1981 has federal spending risen at a similar clip.
To put things into perspective: in 1980-81, the country was mired in the worst recession in the post-war period, and defense spending, originally increased by Carter, was undergoing yet another big boost under Reagan — all to win the Cold War. Oh, and those spendthrift Democrats ran Congress.
When it comes to spending, it no longer matter whether or not we’re at war — or which party controls Congress. Majorities inevitably prefer to keep themselves that way, by buying your votes with your grandchildren’s dollars.