In his 2002 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush said, "... while the price of freedom and security is high, it is never too high. Whatever it costs to defend our country, we will pay."
Regardless of your opinion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the undeniable truth is that these wars have cost us a great deal of money.
Since 2002, our annual spending on "defense," security and intelligence has more than doubled to around $1 trillion, while, at the same time, our other domestic discretionary (non-entitlement) spending for infrastructure, education and economic development has grown much more slowly.
What's more, our budget will face continued requirements for many years after these wars end, both in the services we owe to our returning soldiers and in the interest we pay on the money we borrowed to pay for the wars in the first place.
Through it all, we've failed to pay for the increased expenditures as we should have; the ideologically motivated Bush tax cuts came at the worst possible moment as we ramped up our American war machine and kept it fed with massive supplemental outlays, high-priced contractor deals and a regrettable two-front "strategery."
Now, as a result, we've got a huge bill to pay, exacerbated, of course, by the Great Recession. Which means the answer to the question of how to balance our budget and pay down our debts has to include ... revenues. Even the state economist for Mississippi is warning about the alternative.
It's time to ask the wealthy in this country to fulfill Bush's pledge--and pay a little more in taxes.
Won't tax increases kill jobs? A Congressional Research Service report--which the GOP in the U.S. House of Representatives tried to bury before the election--shows that there's no correlation between the top tax rates and economic growth; in the 1950s and '60s, the top tax rate was 90 percent (today it's 35 percent) and the capital gains rate was 25 percent in the late 1980s through the 1990s (today it's 15 percent). Yet those periods saw economic booms (and busts) just the same as we've seen under the lower rates over the past 12 years.
If the Bush tax rates really drive job creation, how does one explain the net job creation of only 1.1 million jobs over his eight years? The Clinton administration, with higher rates, saw 23 million jobs created.
Gov. Romney's most persistent campaign promise was to lower taxes on the wealthy, incorrectly asserting that policy would create jobs. President Obama ran on a clear message to increase taxes on our wealthiest earners while supporting the middle class, and he won a resounding victory in both the Electoral College and popular vote.
The mandate could not be more clear.
We call on the Mississippi congressional delegation and other Republicans to work with the president on a balanced approach to our budget that increases revenues while continuing to support the working class, middle class and small business job creators as we climb out of a recession that the investor class has already left behind.
It's time for the GOP to make good on President Bush's promise--ask the wealthy in this country help us pay "the price of freedom."