Conservative Republican congressman says it’s time to bring the troops home from Afghanistan

Slowly, the anti-war right is gaining momentum. Jason Chaffetz, a freshman Republican congressman from Utah, says it’s time to bring the troops home from Afghanistan.

Good for him.

I see several good reasons for a different policy in Afghanistan.

  1. You cannot claim to be a fiscal conservative and support expensive and deficit-busting nation-building exercises overseas.  Spending and the deficit are our biggest threats right now — they trump every other concern until we get the deficit back to a manageable level.
  2. Afghanistan is where empires go to die.  See:  Soviet Union and the mighty British empire.
  3. Ron Paul makes an excellent argument, which is to look at the Chinese foreign policy, which is based on investing overseas peacefully.  The Chinese are winning that battle.
  4. I can’t see a realistic exit strategy from Afghanistan.  How and when do we declare victory and leave?

Let me address another concern up-front:  I was a big supporter of the Iraq war.  Given the realities of the evidence available in 2003, I think most people were.  It was a mistake.  Speaking as a fiscal conservative, I should have listened to the few voices on the right warning about the cost.  Whether or not it was right morally, it was a mistake fiscally, and I did not realize that until this year.

Hopefully anti-war voices on the left and right can unite to reverse our current course in Afghanistan.

One other point:  I still don’t think President Obama bears the majority of the blame for our Middle East adventures.  In this particular case, he is dealing with the hand he was dealt by the Bush administration.  I wish he would take another course in Afghanistan and announce a new doctrine of non-interference in the Middle East (based on fiscal concerns at the very least), but to lay all the blame at his feet is to ignore reality.  Let’s hope he changes course in 2010.

 

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

53 thoughts on “Conservative Republican congressman says it’s time to bring the troops home from Afghanistan

  1. It’s very noble of you to let Obama off the hook, but I can’t help believing that neither you nor Jason Chaffetz (nor George Will, for that matter) would be taking this position if John McCain or Mitt Romney were president.

  2. I agree; I think Obama is making a poor choice here by increasing troops instead of pulling out. I thank you, also, for placing the majority of blame where it belongs (on Bush/Cheney).
    I wonder if some previously pro-war types will become anti-war solely because they oppose Obama–we’ll have to watch and see on that point.

  3. LL, it’s impossible to know for sure how I or anybody else would feel given different realities. I’ve always been a bit leery of our Afghanistan adventure (at least since 2004). But your point is a valid one. It is impossible to ignore the fact that some of us on the right may be more open to be an anti-war stance given we oppose the president in other areas. I still feel it is the right stance to take.

  4. I am anxious to hear President Obama’s speech tonight on Afghanistan and the ‘new’ policy for the war there. Hopefully we will have a clear exit strategy and a timetable for withdrawal.

  5. I would add the following. It seems there are a variety of positions you can take on the Afghanistan situation.

    1)Support it.
    2)Support it because you support the president, even though you may have misgivings.
    3)Oppose it because you are anti-war in the Middle East.
    4)Oppose it for political reasons and because you oppose Pres. Obama’s agenda.
    5)Oppose it because you are very, very, very concerned about the deficit and unsure about the long-term strategy.

    If I had to put myself in a category, I would say I am primarily in the (5) category, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I oppose the war partly because I am in the (4) category.

    Having said that, I was in the (2) category during the Bush administration, and I regret having taken that stance.

  6. Geoff,

    Your admission of having erred is a breath of fresh air in a stale political world. Not many people (myself included, all too often) are willing to admit that they were wrong in their support for a misguided policy. You have my respect.

  7. I think we are being little short of memory in regardes to the long history of our (US) involvement in the Middle East. Most of our problems started back in the 40′s and 50′s with the taking of sides of one nation over another regrading Israel, exploiting abrab oil and the failure to build meaningful alliances in those nations. We came and took but did little to provide a friendly relationship. We have only continued to carry on such policies. I think all administrations are quilty by continuing on such policies. We tended to force our thinking on the people instead of respecting their thinking and wishes. Our western culture clashed with the eastern culture. History tells us that you can not take Afganistan, period.

  8. Mike Parker – you’re right. We always seem to put the wrong guy in office. I guess it is the lesser of two evils thing. We have made a mess of things over there.

  9. Mike, re: your #8, thanks. That means a lot. I have to say, it’s more “natural” for me to be anti-war. I always felt uncomfortable trying to argue for a policy that is pro-war (even though I did it endlessly during the Bush years). There is a (big) part of me that keeps on pushing me to being a pacifist. I know there are times war is necessary, and the 1930s prove that sometimes pacifism equals appeasement, which is even worse, but I gotta think there is a middle ground between appeasement and an overly aggressive foreign policy, and I’m trying to find where that is in our current situation.

  10. It is worth pointing out that the Iranian coup aside, we did not jump entirely on the Israeli bandwagon until the 1960s and 1970s, and even then we elected a pretty anti-Israel president in Jimmy Carter.

    Keep in mind that Eisenhower jumped all over Israel during the Suez war.

    I mention this only to remind people that the “we hate America” narrative of the Arab and Persian world is a bit skewed given that we have not always been pro-Israel and the fact that we have intervened many times to protect Muslims (in Bosnia, in Chechenya, for example). It’s interesting to note that Israelis overwhelmingly perceive Obama as an anti-Israel president (recent poll shows something like 92 percent of Israelis think Obama is anti-Israel).

    If there’s one lesson I can draw from this, it’s that we really need a “reset button” for our relationship with the Middle East. I think there’s a lot of room for an “Obama doctrine” that completely redefines our national interests in the Middle East.

  11. What do you propose for a “reset” regarding Israel? I for one can’t fathom why we indirectly subsidize their new settlements.

  12. BrianJ, I honestly don’t know. I have stopped putting forward absolutes in the Middle East, because so many things I thought were simple have turned out to be so much more complicated.

    On the one hand, supporting Israel is the moral thing to do. I can’t understand how we can tell Jewish people they can live anywhere in the world except the West Bank. How can we be against freedom of movement? On the other hand, as you say we are indirectly subsidizing a policy that may lead to war. It is also true that some of the settlements (not all or even the majority) have involved confiscating land or not offering fair compensation.

    I guess as a general guiding principle, I would say we need to disengage from problems that we have done a bad job of resolving. Most of the people in the region don’t seem to appreciate our efforts. Look at what the Chinese are doing: they are investing in the region, making money, and everybody loves them.

  13. My only question is where were these fiscal conservatives in 2002 and why were they silent when it really mattered?

  14. “I guess as a general guiding principle, I would say we need to disengage from problems that we have done a bad job of resolving.” Geoff for President!!

  15. Geoff,

    even then we elected a pretty anti-Israel president in Jimmy Carter.

    Exactly how was Jimmy Carter anti-Israel? Did he not do Israel its biggest favor still to this point? Did he not get them to be at peace with their most aggressive enemy, Egypt?

    In any case, sadly we cannot pull out of Afghanistan right now, and Obama’s policy will probably be the best course out. I’ll give him credit for taking his time to really consider the options carefully. I hope his plan works.

    The only thing that continues to sadden me about today’s generation of Americans is how willing they are to send their professional soldiers to other countries to die, but how unwilling they are to make a financial sacrifice for that service. That is a true shame on this generation. How dare we send our war bills to our children to pay! After WWII, that generation of Americans were willing to pay higher taxes in order to pay the debt of their war. Where is this generation’s willingness to pay for their wars?

    For any future wars, I think we should have a referendum before the war takes place. All those that vote in favor of the war will see their taxes increased so as to pay for that war.

  16. I can’t understand how we can tell Jewish people they can live anywhere in the world except the West Bank. How can we be against freedom of movement?

    We are not telling Jewish people where they can live, we are telling them where they can legitimately exercise authority over land use, and we have wisely decided that the West Bank is not one of those places. Now if the Palestinians were exercising such authority, they might well use it to deny Jews the right to live on the West Bank, but that is no different than current Israeli policy, which denies Palestinians the right to live where settlements have been built.

    And how did we intervene in Chechenya?

  17. My perspective as a woman:

    We need to finish what we started. That means fighting it like we mean it — we’re not doing that. Our president needs to learn to be comfortable with the concept of victory in Afghanistan, or move over and let the miliary do it’s job. Give them what they want, all the time, everytime, or pull everyone and everything out today. Finally, if we pull out before we win, we need to brace ourselves for a stronger more resilliant Talliban, who will use a pullout as propaganda, and who will, along with other radicals will attack this country again. Finally, and most importantly, say a prayer for all the women, wives, mothers, daughters and girls we will be leaving to the mercy of mysoginistic men, who rule in the name of Allah, but govern with the hands of the devil. There are no burquas big enough to protect them from what is coming if we leave.

  18. Joyce,

    Would you please tell me what, to your mind, “victory in Afghanistan” is, exactly?

  19. Victory = finishing what we’ve started, and not running home with our tails between our legs.

    And BTW, those were Obummer’s words about victory not mine.

  20. I agree with you Joyce. We at least need to create infrastructure and build schools and hospitals for women. If we leave now we will create even more resentment than was before. We need to leave AFghanistan better than we found it.

  21. How about:

    (6) Support it because the credibility of the United States is at stake
    (7) Support it because the credibility of President Obama is at stake
    (8) Support it because it is reasonably likely we can succeed at reasonable cost
    (9) Support it because if we can succeed, we shouldn’t let the deaths of the soldiers who have died in that conflict be in vain.
    (10) Support it because if we withdraw the lives of American civilians and others will be put at unnecessary risk

    The only reason not to support it at this point would be (1) a consensus among the military leaders that the war cannot be won anytime in the foreseeable future and (2) a consensus among political leaders that the costs of an indefinite commitment exceed the ongoing security benefits of remaining engaged in the conflict.

    If the threat to the United States and our allies is significant and ongoing, it could be worth the cost to stay there for the next century if necessary. Or we could withdraw and wait for the next 9/11 or worse.

  22. Joyce, JA, Mark D, I don’t agree with your viewpoints, but I’m really glad you added them to this thread. I think your viewpoint does not get enough “air-time,” as it were, in the bloggernacle, and it probably represents the majority of U.S. Mormon opinion and should be represented. Joyce and JA, btw, my wife agrees with you 100 percent.

  23. It is worth mentioning that the cost of the war in Afghanistan (with the additional troops) will be about $100 billion dollars next year. Compare that to the $800 billion dollar stimulus package, or the $700 billion bank bailout and so on.

    The cost is an issue, but pulling out immediately would only make a small dent in our ridiculously large deficit, a deficit we have been running for other significantly politically opportunistic (if not completely counterproductive) reasons.

    If we want to save money, the first thing we should do is dump the rest of the stimulus package (most of which was scheduled to be spent in future years), and dump it now.

  24. Here’s an idea: take the remaining stimulus and TARP slush funds (estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars) and apply them to the deficit; cancel the health care and cap and trade boondoggles; pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan asap; and cut discretionary spending in all government departments. We could have a manageable deficit by 2012.

  25. Honestly, when it comes down to it more than anything else, I worry about the women. What about the women? Are we to leave them alone, hiding in their homes trying to teach their daughters in fear of death? We need to follow thru with what we promised we’d do. Finish what we’ve started.

    It should also be noted that our nation did not just spring up over night as well. The Revolution was 6 years long, and it wasn’t untill 1787 that our Constitution was realized. Even after than, I’d say even up to the Civil War, the USA was still a work in progress, it still is today…but that’s a chat for another time.

    Outty for tonite men.

  26. take the remaining stimulus and TARP slush funds

    The irony here is that the remaining stimulus and TARP funds are “funds” in name only. It is not as if the government has the money sitting in a bank account. We haven’t even borrowed it yet.

  27. I strongly doubt that spending our blood and treasure occupying Afghanistan, combined with occasional accidental Predator strikes on weddings and funerals, is going to convince the Afghans to abandon Sharia law, treat women as social equals, stop growing poppies that produce most of the world’s opium and heroin, and eliminate the widespread corruption in their government.

    In fact, I can’t think of a single occupying force in the history of the world that managed to convince the occupied people that the the occupiers really were there to help them. And yet many think that we can pull off what no other nation ever has, simply because our motives are more pure. On the contrary, continued occupation of Afghanistan is only going to continue to foment hatred for the United States in that country and throughout the Muslim world.

    Waiting for a consensus among military and political leaders that this is an unwinnable conflict is a waste of time. There are too many egos, too many lucrative military contracts, and too many opportunities for higher office (political and military) to risk doing the smart thing and bringing our troops home.

    We’ve been in Afghanistan for eight years, more than twice as long as we spent fighting Germany and Japan in the 1940s. This is because we’ve treated terrorism as a military problem, rather than a political and law enforcement problem.

    I sadly suspect that, four years from now, we’ll still be in Afghanistan, and supporters of the war will still be saying that we need to “finish the job.”

  28. I strongly doubt that spending our blood and treasure occupying Afghanistan…is going to convince the Afghans to abandon Sharia law, treat women as social equals, stop growing poppies that produce most of the world’s opium and heroin, and eliminate the widespread corruption in their government.

    If that is our justification for being there, we should get out as soon as possible. Fortunately, that is not the case. Our only justifiable reason for being there is to protect the national security interests of the United States and our allies, i.e. to keep innocent civilians from being killed unnecessarily.

  29. Geoff B., I’m shocked that you admit that a big reason you supported war in Iraq was to support George Bush, but also now confess that one reason you don’t support war in Afghanistan is because you don’t want to support President Obama.

    But, having said that, I really respect your decision to admit that you may have gotten it wrong. I really respect that (mostly because I hear so many so-called conservatives who are suddenly dovish now that the “wrong” president favors troop build-up). Thanks for this.

  30. Joyce,

    The Revolution was 6 years long, and it wasn’t untill 1787 that our Constitution was realized.

    This sets up a false hope for Afghanistan, because while it may have taken six years between the point where we declared independence to when the British gave it to us, we had about three hundred years of British and other Western European culture and law already established in the Americas. There was little changed between the American governmental system and that of Britain’s besides of course royalty. Most everything else was borrowed or adapted from a system of government very familiar to most Americans.

    I have no idea what you expect of Afghanistan, but removing it from the influence of Sharia law is almost impossible. I’m glad President Obama did not talk about democracy in Afghanistan as one of the goals for his strategy. There was a time and place, a window of opportunity for that to occur. That window was 2002-2003 when we had a president here in America who chose to focus his and America’s attention elsewhere. That window is now closed.

    An idea that I like is to bribe certain individuals to keep the peace. Afghanistan’s GDP is $12 billion. We are currently spending $60 billion per year in Afghanistan. That makes absolutely no sense to me. Sadly we cannot leave Afghanistan for a multitude of reasons, number one being that it would detrimentally affect our standing in the world. No country could ever trust us in the future to be there for them. This is something an ignorant, wet-behind-the-ears-freshman boy from Bubble Utah (Representative Chaffetz) simply cannot comprehend. Or maybe he does, and the reason why Republicans are jumping on the “cut and run” bandwagon is that a Democrat is in charge, and getting him to cut and run will prove to them that Democrats cannot be trusted to run America’s military.

  31. Here’s an idea: take the remaining stimulus and TARP slush funds (estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars) and apply them to the deficit; cancel the health care and cap and trade boondoggles; pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan asap; and cut discretionary spending in all government departments. We could have a manageable deficit by 2012.

    I’m with you on this one! Let’s do it!!

  32. We’ve been in Afghanistan for eight years, more than twice as long as we spent fighting Germany and Japan in the 1940s

    We haven’t made much of an effort though. Total spending to date in Afghanistan is approximately $220 billion. World War II cost about $5 trillion in current dollars. That is about twenty five times as much.

  33. Tax Americans to pay for their wars.

    A balanced budget amendment to the constitution you say? I’m all for it.

  34. Hunter, re: your #36, I’m not sure why that’s so surprising. Perhaps it’s the honesty?

    I’ve discussed this elsewhere, but I voted for Bush twice, and I think it’s natural to want to support your candidate. The criticism of Bush was so “over the top” and mean-spirited that I felt a need to defend him (and my vote). I still feel those tendencies today — in this very post I defend Obama to a certain extent. I don’t like the “over the top” and mean-spirited attacks on him, even though I don’t agree with him and think his project for America is diametrically opposed to what I believe in. So, I guess it’s a bit of “defending the underdog,” even though it seems strange to think of a U.S. president as an underdog. I guess I would say that the office of the president deserves some extra respect, and I also worry that NOBODY may be able to govern this country. People are so cynical and quick to lose respect for every possible institution. That worries me.

    I’ve been thinking all day about how I would respond if this were President McCain calling for a troop increase in Afghanistan. I honestly didn’t know how I would respond until last night I saw him on the TV, and I thought to myself “what a complete dufus.” So, I guess it’s safe to say that I would still oppose the troop increase if Pres. McCain were the guy supporting it as well. So, hurray for consistency? Maybe.

    (Would I still defend a Pres. McCain in other areas? Maybe).

  35. Mark D.,

    A balanced budget amendment to the constitution you say? I’m all for it.

    I don’t think I would support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. I think that the US government ought to be able to borrow as needed when necessary (or even when not necessary). But I do think it is highly shameful of this generation of Americans, particularly those who supported the Iraq War of Choice who were unwilling (and still are) to pay for that war with their own money, but instead put that bill in Chinese banks with interest for our children to one day have to pay. That is shameful.

  36. Brian,

    There is a better idea. Tax Americans to pay for their wars. :)

    Dan,

    If anyone accuses you of not being a tax and spend liberal, have them come talk to me. I will vouch for your willingness to take money from others so politicians can spend it and redistribute it.

  37. On the issue of what to do about all the opium produced by Afghanistan. The US government should buy it all. Why? Western countries use opium to make codeine, hydocodene, oxycodene, and morphine. They can then sell the opium to drug companies. If we pay good money for it and they know who is paying them I believe we will win good will. God only gives us good gifts. It is up to us, to figure out what that good gift is.

    If we encourage change, thru education, from the children up, the Taliban and their ilk, will not flourish in an educated society. They will change on their own. Slowly, and with patience, we/they will enact change.

  38. Americans…who were unwilling (and still are) to pay for that war with their own money

    I would say the evidence for that proposition is somewhere between shaky and non-existent. It is common for governments to run deficits during war time, but the numbers we are talking about here are so small that the idea that the debt is going to be passed onto the next generation is ridiculous.

    Futhermore, if there was a balanced budget requirement the willingness of the citizenry to support some types of wars would certainly go down. That could be a good thing. However, the willingness of the public to support completely unfunded spending of other sorts would be an even more significant benefit.

    If there was a balanced budget amendment, there would be no $800 billion stimulus package, for example. No bailout of GM, AIG, Fannie Mae, etc. without a much higher level of public support. And so on. No more robbing the public blind without the taxes to pay for it.

  39. Well, Geoff B., thanks for that. Your post made me sit back and ask myself whether my position on these issues was at all dependent on the personality (or party) of the president. I think I can safely say that on foreign policy, my views have not been based on who is in office. I favored the original war in Afghanistan, and adamantly opposed the Iraq war. But I also favored the Iraq surge, and I likewise am in favor of a troop build up in Afghanistan (reserving judgment on all of Obama’s plan, as I haven’t had a chance to delve into it much).

    But like you, I do find myself responding somewhat to public opinion, and, in my contrarian moods have been known to defend something I don’t necessarily support in my heart and mind. Your honesty is shocking yes, but it’s so refreshing, too. There’s nothing worse than party hacks who defend their party but do it in the name of defending principles (e.g., Hannity, Olberman). I told my wife last night after reading your post that it pretty much made my day. Good stuff. Thanks.

  40. JA Benson writes: “On the issue of what to do about all the opium produced by Afghanistan. The US government should buy it all.”

    Ah, but here’s the problem: The U.S. has an arrangement with Turkey and India to provide at least 80% our legal opiates. If we wanted to change that arrangement to include Afghanistan, Turkey and India are certain to object. If we discard the arrangement, more Turkish and Indian opiates are going to end up in the illegal drug market. All we’d be doing is shifting the source of heroin from Afghanistan to other countries; the overall problem remains the same.

    (That is, unless we decide to end the failed, costly “war on drugs,” which has been about as successful as the “war on terror.” That’s not likely to happen, though.)

    This is why invading and occupying other nations fails so often: We get ourselves involved in local and regional issues that we don’t understand and can’t resolve. No matter how much political and military pressure we put on Afghan poppy farmers, poppies are still going to be grown, and much of the crop is going to end up on the black market, where it funds either terrorism or some other organized crime.

    We get in over our heads on these things, and only later — after all the money has been spent and all the bodies buried — do we start to understand that we can’t change people’s beliefs and convictions. They have to want to change, and bombing them or giving them cash won’t do that; all that does is change temporary behaviors.

    One hundred years from now (mark it, Senator McCain!), the Afghan people will still want self-government based on Sharia law. Will we still be there, trying to convince them otherwise? I hope not, but then to hope for a rational U.S. foreign policy is the biggest of all opium-fueled pipe dreams.

  41. Mark D.,

    #46,

    I would say the evidence for that proposition is somewhere between shaky and non-existent. It is common for governments to run deficits during war time, but the numbers we are talking about here are so small that the idea that the debt is going to be passed onto the next generation is ridiculous.

    What do you mean? I’m talking about the well over $1 trillion dollars so far spent on Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s not a small number. All of that money is currently sitting in Chinese banks.

  42. Brian,

    If anyone accuses you of not being a tax and spend liberal, have them come talk to me. I will vouch for your willingness to take money from others so politicians can spend it and redistribute it.

    Hey man, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. If we wish to wage war, we must raise taxes to pay for said war. Right? If we wish to use an economic stimulus, we will eventually have to pay for that with taxes. If we wish to bail out certain industries in order to save the overall economy, eventually we will have to pay for that with taxes. Honestly I don’t know where conservatives get this aversion to taxation from. While reducing taxes to an extent does actually bring in more revenue, that system is subject to the law of diminishing, and eventually negative, returns. There comes a point where if you reduce taxation levels too much, you will no longer have enough funds to manage the programs you have. This should be painfully evident with the events since Bush’s 2001 tax cut. If the idea is true that reducing tax levels brings more revenue to the government, then when Bush’s tax cut went into effect, more revenue should have come into the government’s coffers. But sadly that never happened. Because it just is not true. Now, back in the 1980s, yes when Reagan cut taxes to 50% for the richest Americans that brought in more revenue. Well, that is clear. Taxing the richest Americans at 75% or even 94% (which is where it was during WWII) is obviously way too high—though under the circumstances, that is justifiable. That generation of Americans realized they needed to pay down their debts due to a war not of choice (WWII). Since the 1980s, Americans have been fed this notion that we can have our cake and eat it too. Thus we’ve grown fat and in debt. It is doubly painful, but sadly we need to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans again in order to manage our funds appropriately. Otherwise we will be bankrupting our country. And we need to stop waging wars around the world. And we need to cut down some of our domestic expenses too. Obama’s health care bill actually does this. The CBO report indicates that Obama’s health care bill pays for itself AND reduces some of the current costs. That sounds like something fiscal conservatives should appreciate.

  43. Dan, I was referring in particular to the cost of the war on Afghanistan. However, $120 billion a year for both wars looks relatively small compared to spending $800 billion in a single year for something as transparently rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul-ish as the stimulus package.

    That is $120 billion out of ~$2.5 trillion budget for those years. Well within the realm of reasonable repayment. We paid the enormous WWII debt after all, and it certainly wasn’t passed onto the next generation in any substantive sense. What percentage of people don’t expect to live thirty more years?

    The sad thing about all this stuff is not that we are passing the debt onto our children. We each will suffer personally for our collective profligacy.

    I wouldn’t normally call treasury bonds “money”, by the way, they are bonds, or notes receivable that we will have to redeem in actual money derived from future taxes. Unless we do something as suicidal as print our way out of debt.

  44. The CBO report indicates that Obama’s health care bill pays for itself AND reduces some of the current costs.

    Pays for itself (in federal budgetary terms) by raising taxes, and playing games with the numbers like taxing people for ten years to pay for five. The real ongoing cost is not quite so rosy.

    Furthermore, we could just cut to the chase and have the government spend all our money. That would pay for itself too. Or instead of having the government spend it, we could just have the government tell *us* how to spend it. In CBO terms, telling people what they have to spend their money on has no cost at all(!).

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