On NBC’s The Chris Matthews Show this morning, Chris moved the discussion in the direction of blaming flooding problems in post-Katrina New Orleans, and the failure to shore up the levee system around the city, on funding for the Iraq war, as well as tax cuts:
A third of our national guard is in Iraq. A lot of our force level. We're not in con-- in conscription but basically everybody in the army is on the way to Iraq or coming back from it. We have an infrastructure problem. It means things like levees. It means things like highways. Protecting yourself from disasters. We have these issues. Could it be that we don't have the money, that in the end we're going to find out that the budget couldn't cover these items? There weren't enough helicopters. There wasn't enough to fix the levees because we're spending too much and not taxing enough -- I'm not selling taxes here but it could it be the books are out of order?
The New Republic’s Andrew Sullivan took the bait hook, line, and sinker:
People were demanding money for these levees. Begging for it. And the money was taken from that to go to Iraq. And we have the -- we have the record right there. And that cannot be evaded. Now, I don't know whether that would have made a huge difference in this case. But it's certainly a big negative: I would say that 9/11 is involved here, because bush made a decision. He wasn't going to vastly increase the military. He was not going to spend a lot of money to put lots of troops over there and also spend a lot money on infrastructure. The tax cuts were going to stay in place and we were going to do the war on the cheap and we're going to do civil defense on the cheap and that's what happened.
With all due respect to Misters Sullivan and Matthews, the lack of federal budget understanding and fiscal reference being displayed here is almost unimaginable. In the past four years since fiscal 2001, federal spending has increased by $616 billion, or 33 percent. This has been one of the most spendthrift periods in American history, and is why we have budget deficits, gentlemen.
By contrast, in the previous four years under Clinton, spending only increased by $262 billion, or 16 percent. In fact, during the full two terms of Clinton, federal spending only increased by $454 billion, or 32%. This means that both in nominal and percentage terms, federal spending increases in the past four years were greater than during the previous eight.
As such, suggesting that funding to any agency or project other than national defense was impacted by spending on the Iraq war is thoroughly devoid of logic and factual basis.