Ask not

Published January 20, 2005 7:59PM (EST)

Early on during today's inaugural ceremony, Sen. Trent Lott said that Americans have "never been unwilling" to pay the price of defending freedom. If that's the case, one might wonder why the Bush administration has refused to ask the American people to pay any price -- any monetary price, anyway -- of the Iraq war.

When the administration asked Congress for an additional $87 billion to finance operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, John Kerry and other Democrats proposed that the price be paid by reversing that portion of the Bush tax cuts that went to the very richest Americans. The Republicans refused, preferring to add the cost to the already burgeoning federal deficit. Even today, the administration refuses to include the costs of war in its budget estimates, arguing that the numbers are so unpredictable that we shouldn't even try to count them.

Bush could have spoken of the economic costs of war today -- he could have asked Americans to ask themselves what they could do for their country. Instead, the president thanked Americans for what they've already done -- shown "patience in the hard task of securing America."

So we've done our part by showing our IDs when we walk into our offices and taking our shoes off before going through the airport metal detectors. The rest of the job will fall to our kids, a point Bush acknowledged when he urged young people to "make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself."

Of course, Bush has already made that choice for them -- they'll be serving in Iraq, and then, if they make it back home, they'll be paying off the debt that Bush won't ask this generation to pay.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

MORE FROM Tim Grieve

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

War Room