Final Comments

To all of you who have responded to my posting on Angry Bear, many thanks. I have enjoyed the dialogue and the sparring. All of us, I believe, have our country’s interests at heart even though we may come at these issues from different perspectives. My purpose in writing The Price of Liberty — which, as I have noted in several postings is a quote from Hamilton about Revolutionary War debt and not about the Iraq War — was to trace the history of wartime financing from the Revolution through the War on Terrorism to see what we can learn from the past and how we can do things better. I think even those who have taken issue with me about the current set of policy issues will enjoy the history contained in the book. I hope that whatever you think, you will let me know your thoughts, your comments and your criticisms. I hope you at least find it interesting — even if there are parts of it you disagree with.

Thanks again to Angry Bear for hosting me as a guest blogger this week.

Warm regards,
Bob Hormats
author of The Price of Liberty

Some final responses to your individual comments:

To Coberly: I have never tried to combine entitlements with politically-inspired constituency projects. Social Security will only be self-financed for another decade. After that, it will go into deficit. I have been, and am, a strong supporter of Social Security. Who are the real supporters of the Social Security system? Those who want to reform it now with a few minor adjustments to put it on a sustainable basis or those who want simply to let it get so far out of balance that wrenching reforms are needed later on that cause more pain? By refusing to accept the fact that some reforms are needed to ensure that is sustainable, you may actually be weakening it.

To Ilsm: There still are major dangers out there. How much we spend to combat them is one issue. How smartly we spend it is another. These require a major national dialogue.

To Chris: Good point. The war is only a part of the overall military spending. I wasn’t attempting to separate them. But the incremental cost of the war is about 1% of the GDP. This is not cheap, since the war will be the second most expensive in American history by the end of this year.

To Ilsm (again): I completely agree with your focus on costs and benefits. We need that in the defense budget and across the board. Also, the defense budget wasn’t the only part of military spending during these wars. World War II saw a lot of spending to build military plants that was not in the defense budget. And 1953 was not the high point year of the Korean War. It ended that year. The D.O.D. budget now is about 4%, but the marginal last of the war is about 1%

To Dan: A serious global threat is posed by extremists who want to acquire and deploy weapons of mass destruction.

To Lysistratra: The U.S. doesn’t borrow quite that much on a net basis now since the
deficit is only about $150 billion. But as you and I both know, that is deceptive, since a large part of the deficit is covered by the Social Security surplus.

To Ilsm (again): I agree. The military should have a pay raise and it requires bringing the marginal tax rate up to where it was in 2001 or some cuts in pork-barrel spending. That is fair and equitable.
I agree that the key issues are what we get for our money. I was only using the GDP comparison to reflect the relative cost of the war as a portion of GDP. Even if the war were a far smaller portion of GDP, we still need to use the resources efficiently — and that applies to all programs.

To dmarek: You would be much more effective if you expressed substantive thoughts rather that spewed out invectives. Try it!!!

To cursed: Your comments on Israel are really puzzling — and not very thoughtful!

To Coberly (again): Just what do you recommend to put the Social Security system on a sustainable basis? Wishful thinking?