Wednesday, December 09, 2009

MN-02 : Kline and his Unconscionable Afghanistan Stance

How Will We Know When the War Is Over?

That was the questioned posed by John Kline. His response was “I think the answer to that question lies in the answer to another question:
W h y are we fighting the war?”
The answer to this question, surely, is not to seek revenge or even justice. The answer is to rid the world of the scourge of international terrorism. It is to have relative peace and security for ourselves and the rest of the world. So how do we know when this is accomplished ?
There is, I am afraid, no simple answer to the question.

In the end, Kline concludes “as long as there is a single country on the list [countries as state sponsors of international terrorism], a single refuge for terrorists, the war is not over.”

Kline’s paper was written in 2002 just after – using Kline’s words – “We crushed the Taliban” in Afghanistan … but the war was not over as Kline went on to suggest that there could be future military actions … “There is much talk of returning to Iraq to “finish the job.”

Fast forward from 2002 to 2009 and Kline’s assessment is correct … the war ain’t over.

And as such, another question needs to be asked … Not WHY but WHEN will we pay for this war ?

Admittedly, when Kline wrote in 2002 acknowledging the need for military action, he – nor the Bush Administration – knew how much it would cost. But the numbers are now known … and are staggering.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost close to $1 trillion thus far. According to the CRS, the marginal cost of continuing the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is about $11 billion per month, with no end in sight. An adding 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan, as President Obama has requested, will cost another $30 billion per year.

In a recent OpEd, Kline wrote Since coming to Congress seven years ago, I have traveled to Afghanistan and neighboring nations on multiple occasions. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have participated in countless hearings about the evolving situation in that troubled region. A recurring theme in nearly all of these encounters is the struggle our commanders and troops face in trying to convince the local population the United States will not abandon them.

While Kline advocates not abandoning Afghanistan, he fails to address how long will the DOD budget be funding military operations. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says it could take 20 years for Afghanistan to be able to pay for its own security. Defense Secretary Robert Gates seemed to accept that premise stating "I think that there is a realism on our part that it will be some time before Afghanistan is able to sustain its security forces entirely on its own.

So when will we pay for this ?

And why haven’t the fiscal conservatives in Congress raised this question ?

Bruce Bartlett,a Reagan-era Treasury Department economist, asks this very question. His assessment is that Republicans have resolved to fight our wars on the cheap and with deceptive cost estimates. The suggestion is that if it takes wars to end ill-conceived social programs, then that's another argument in favor of continuing the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns.

When Representative Kline was asked about the costs of military actions on Almanac 12/04/09 broadcast, he dodged the quesiton. He complained of an “exploding Federal government” and that it was a “bad idea” to enact a “war tax.”

Obviously, when one trillion dollars is spent on just Iraq and Afghanistan, it shouldn’t be a surprise that defense spending has risen more than 65% since 2001 but Kline, the politician, points the finger at the all encompassing “exploding Federal government”.

As Kline wrote “Our Freedoms Do Not Come Without A Price” thus the lesson is that we need to spend our monies wisely.

If it’s a spending issue, choices can be made.

Should the country spend $300 million for the National World War II Museum (which has been championed by Representative – now Senator – David Vitter (R-LA) … or 600 MRAP All Terrain Vehicles (M-ATV) that are needed in Afghanistan ?

As Kline well knows, the war zone in Afghanistan is different than the one in Iraq … and although some personnel may easily be moved, the equipment is different. Yet, Kline has continued to vote for F-22s even though the DOD doesn’t want them and they are not used in the current war zone. When confronted about his vote (which was an earmark offered by Rob Bishop R-UT) by a true fiscal conservative, Tim Penny, Kline said it would be good for jobs.

During election season candidate Kline likes to talk about stopping pork projects but Representative Kline has no problem with military pork.

Since Kline is unable to control military pork, the alternatives are : Letting future generations pay; or enact a tax such as H.R. 4130, the "Share the Sacrifice Act of 2010." It would establish a 1% surtax on everyone's federal income tax liability.

As a fiscal conservative, it is unconscionable that Kline has done nothing but play the blame game without taking any responsibility for his own actions.
This discussion should not be a Democrat versus Republican issue. Jim Hagedorn, a Republican candidate to represent the First District in Congress, has expressed that his campaign will be based on "restructuring foreign entanglements and defunding “nation building”". That's an option that can be debated next year, but Congress should not wait until after the next election.
This is about being fiscally responsible NOW. IF the Minnesota Tea Party Patriots really care about our financial future, they need to lobby Kline to accept responsiblity.

Being fiscally responsible, Kline should join Congresswoman Betty McCollum and become a co-sponsor of H. R. 4130. Kline's right that “Our Freedoms Do Not Come Without A Price” but that “Price” should not be paid by future generations.


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I don't think people realize the enormity of cutting our way to paying for the war. When someone suggests we should do this no one ever asks them for details on what they would cut. If they do, they give them some example that would be about 1% of the war costs.The only programs you could gut and get close re social security and medicare.

Cutting a $300 million memorial might be a good idea in these times, but that would get you to 1.5% of the $200 billion war cost. You would have to list off 67 more 300 million dollar cuts. $100 million sounds so big, that most people say, yeah, cut that and it will fix everything. Politicians are condescending because they think we can't do math and if they throw out a big number it will impress us. For example, cutting a $100,000,000 program would get us half a percent closer to paying for the debt. We would need to cut 200 $100 million dollar programs.

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