The Democrats’ War Tax

Sen. Carl Levin has a solution to the problem of how to finance our losing, futile war in Afghanistan – a war we are fighting to support what has now been officially deemed the second most corrupt government on earth: he wants a war tax. An "additional income tax to the upper brackets, folks earning more than $200,000 or $250,000" a year is what the Michigan Democrat and powerful chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee proposes. His colleagues in the House have the same idea, only their tax is far less "progressive."

David Obey, chairman of the influential Appropriations Committee, John Murtha, who chairs the Defense Subcommittee, and Barney Frank, the banksters’ catamite who heads up the House Financial Services Committee, have proposed the "Share the Sacrifice Act of 2010" – and isn’t that a title worthy of Atlas Shrugged‘s mealy-mouthed villains? In this "share-the-shafting" version of the Democrats’ war tax, everyone is conscripted into paying for our foreign policy of endless war, including those who are least able to afford it. If you make "up to $150,000" a year you would have to pay an extra 1 percent. The balance will come from those who make more. Now that’s real egalitarianism for you: all must suffer, none are spared, because… well, don’t you know there’s a war on?

What – you’re against a tax hike? You’re no doubt a terrorist sympathizer, or, perhaps, even an agent of al-Qaeda.

I can hardly wait for the Democrats to employ this type of rhetoric, memorializing the neocon charge, made during the post-9/11 madness, that opponents of invading Afghanistan and Iraq constituted a "fifth column" – oh, wait, it’s already happened. (Andrew Sullivan, who made just that accusation against the antiwar movement, can now hurl the same charge at tax opponents, since he seems to have switched sides, or parties, in the meantime. Oh, the advantages of ideological ambidexterity!)

But of course we are already paying a war tax, and it is a lot bigger than the official statistics would have you believe. The government claims to spend a mere 20 percent of tax revenue on military appropriations, but in reality, as the War Resisters League trenchantly points out, the number is more like 36 percent – and that’s not counting the 18 percent spent on past wars.

In addition to these revealing numbers, we have a substantial hidden tax – the inflation tax – which, again, targets those who can least afford it and also punishes the virtuous among the working poor and middle class: the savers. To the extent that the government can, it tries to disguise its plundering, pillaging ways, and these stealth tactics include "monetizing" its debts, i.e., printing money hand over fist and degrading its own fiat paper currency, mortgaging our children’s tomorrows to pay for the wars we fight today.

This is a method Rep. Frank knows only too well, which is why he tried to scuttle antiwar Republican Ron Paul’s "Audit the Fed" bill, which would open up to public scrutiny the operations of the "private" banking cartel that makes our debt-driven system possible. It was the Federal Reserve that bailed out Barney’s friends over at Goldman Sachs and Bank of America – and certainly the War Machine is also "too big to fail." More human sacrifices must be made on the altar of the war god before that cruel deity is appeased: that’s what they really mean by "share the sacrifice."

It was all too predictable that the Democrats would hitch their war wagon to an effort to raise taxes and increase the size and scope of government, but it’s also politically savvy. As John T. Flynn, the former liberal turned libertarian of the 1930s who opposed both the corporatist "reforms" of the New Deal and FDR’s march to war, pointed out in his classic As We Go Marching [.pdf], it was possible to get conservative assent to FDR’s big spending programs and revolutionary expansion of federal power on the pretext of military preparedness: "The gaudiest of these job-making boondoggles," he wrote, "is militarism."

The greasy evasiveness of the Obey-Murtha-Frank tax-’em triumvirate is epitomized in their joint statement, which declares: "Regardless of whether one favors the war or not, if it is to be fought, it ought to be paid for." This is one of those oh-so-serious-sounding aphorisms, popular in Washington, which have neither moral sense nor logical consistency. If you’re a member of Congress who opposes the war, why then are you voting to fund it – and in what sense, other than a purely Platonic one, can such legislators claim to be war opponents?

No, it doesn’t have to be paid for; it has to be ended. And the only way it will end is if a congressional majority refuses to fund it. Period. Full stop.

But of course these "antiwar" Democrats support the president’s plan to escalate the Afghan war. Worse, they are standing idly by as he expands the conflict into Pakistan. In the meantime, they are more than happy to use the war as a pretext for grabbing more of the fast-dwindling national income. Is there a word in English that describes a hypocrite who profits from – and, indeed, delights in – his own hypocrisy? Since there are certain words they don’t allow me to say here, cretins is the closest I can come.

A certain variety of modern liberal is temperamentally and ideologically suited to warmongering. No, I’m not talking about old-fashioned liberals of the Flynn type, nor the touchy-feely liberals of my generation, the Sixties crowd of white middle-class ex-hippies gone corporate, who feel a twinge of guilt when they hear the politicians they voted for declaiming on the alleged "necessity" of immersing ourselves in the Afghan quagmire. They remember a place called Vietnam.

No, I’m talking about the "smart," young, hard-eyed liberals and left-neocons in the Peter BeinartJamie KirchickNew Republic mold, who meld the worst aspects of lefty political correctness with reverence for such mass-murdering monsters as Harry Truman and Winston Churchill. They want one thing and one thing only: all power to be centered in Washington, D.C., where the sun rises and sets. These youngsters know their history, and they recognize that one surefire way to accomplish this is to invoke the wartime hysteria that makes this massive transfer of resources much easier, as FDR – and Woodrow Wilson, another "liberal" – demonstrated to earlier generations of Democrats. It’s a lesson this generation is just now in the process of learning. Whether some of them will rebel at this particular lesson plan and undergo a shift of allegiances, like Flynn, remains to be seen.


I naturally can’t let a column about a proposed war tax go by without reminding you that our fundraising drive is reaching its effective end today, and, no, we can’t tax you – and we wouldn’t want that power even if it were given to us. A war tax is bad enough; an "antiwar tax" is an oxymoron, because only governments make war, and they alone have the power to tax. We, on the other hand, must rely on the voluntary support of our readers.

Yes, it’s bad enough the government is stealing your hard-earned money and redistributing it to Goldman Sachs, Lockheed-Martin, and the warlords of Afghanistan, but there’s one way to salvage at least a portion of your federal tax dollars, and that is by making a monetary contribution to this Web site. We’re a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and all contributions are tax-deductible.

So ask yourself this: should I give 100 percent of my tax dollars to the War Machine, or should I make sure the Machine’s most tireless opponents get at least a share of the dollars I’ll have to fork over anyway?

Stop the war tax – and support at the same time. Give today.

Go on over to The Hill, Capitol Hill’s newspaper of record, and check out my latest commentary, this time on the impact of the "stimulus" and the prospect of yet another boondoggle to cover up the failure of the first one.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].