Charles Krauthammer had quite a battle this weekend with "Inside Washington" host Gordon Peterson and fellow panelist Mark Shields.
The fireworks began when Peterson quibbled about how we haven't raised taxes to pay for the wars we're currently waging leading Shields to call them unpatriotic as a result (video follows with transcript and commentary):
GORDON PETERSON, HOST: Here’s something I don’t understand. We’re involved militarily in at least four countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Pakistan. Okay, now we’re having problems with the CIA in Pakistan. During World War I, the government raised taxes several times, told people to eat less. World War II, they sold war bonds, and your mother saved (?) and tin cans, and your father drove a car with retread tires. Harry Truman raised taxes to pay for the Korean War. How are we paying for these wars?
COLBY KING, WASHINGTON POST: We’re borrowing.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Look, that’s an absurd analogy. World War II…
PETERSON: It’s an absurd analogy?
KRAUTHAMMER: It is, because in World War II, the war ate up half of America’s GDP. This is taking up under 3 percent of GDP.
PETERSON: So we don’t have to pay for it?
KRAUTHAMMER: I’m just saying it’s not a comparable issue.
MARK SHIELDS, PBS: Oh wait a minute. This is the man that was deficit averse a minute ago, who was going toxic over the prospect of deficit. These are, you’re absolutely right. These are the most unpatriotic wars ever waged, waged in the sense that it’s the first wars since the African, Mexican-American war we fought without a draft and without tax increases. We fought it with tax cuts. More has been put on the national debt by the Afghanistan and Iraq wars than was put on the national debt from the founding of this country in 1776 to 1980 through two World Wars, the Louisiana Purchase, the Civil War, and the Great Depression.
KRAUTHAMMER: The wars, I, even if I conceded the wars are unpatriotic they are not the drivers of the debt. It’s Medicare and Medicaid. It’s not me speaking. It’s the President’s own deficit commission. It’s simply demagoguery to say the driver of debt are these wars.
To begin with, Shields forgot about Desert Storm and there not being a draft or taxes raised for that war.
However, the larger point here is that this came at the tail end of a discussion about the budget, and as such appeared to be not only another instance of liberal media members trying to make the case for raising taxes but also deflecting blame for all of our red ink from Obama and onto Bush.
Besides the valid points Krauthammer made, the reality is the budget deficit before the Democrats took over Congress was only $160 billion. At that time, we were "surging" in Iraq, had boots on the ground in Afghanistan, and were sending drones into Pakistan.
This means that Krauthammer was quite correct about our current wars not being a driver of debt, but there's no way you're ever going to get liberal media members to agree.