When Faux Progressive Goes Imperialist Neo-Liberal: Beto O'Rourke's 'War Tax'

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There's nothing progressive about distilling war's ravages down to a half-baked, Adam Smith–style capitalist scheme

The New Republic - June 25, 2019

"The notion that people will care more about opposing war when they pay more for it is both empirically wrong and deeply cynical."

... This tax would be imposed according to a tiered schedule, per CNN:

Households making less than $30,000 per year would pay $25; those making less than $40,000 would pay $57; those making less than $50,000 would pay $98; those making less than $75,000 would pay $164; those making less than $100,000 would pay $270; those making less than $200,000 would pay $485; and those making more than $200,000 would pay $1,000.

It is a sick quirk of the English language that this sort of tiering makes a tax “progressive.” Truly progressive ideas that might be preferable to financially penalizing teachers, cabbies, and construction workers for not having gone to boot camp would include making military contractors pay for wars, making billionaires pay for wars (Bernie Sanders has, in fact, proposed exactly this), or making legislators pay when they vote to authorize war.

I would listen to any serious policy proposal that promises to authorize fewer wars, damage fewer service members and overseas civilians, and drive fewer wedges between Americans who have served and Americans who have not. O’Rourke’s war-tax plan will do none of these things; it’s likely to worsen our culture’s gaping rift in civil-military relations. It is, after all, a mandatory literal tribute to “the troops.”

Democrats like O’Rourke regularly respond that more radically pro-peace, anti-militarist proposals (such as taxing military contractors) are not serious. “Seriousness” here apparently requires that we instead approach the decisions to wage war and maintain a massive military as pocketbook issues: “The best way to honor our veterans’ service,” he argues, “is to cancel the blank check for endless war — and reinvest the savings to ensure every American can thrive upon their return home.”

To translate the pablum: Instead of a blank check for war, we’ll have an open account, filled with pennies by working families, and then we can quibble over how big of a check is too big for this war or that. We won’t care for transitioning veterans because we ought to; we’ll do it—again, with working people’s money—because it’s a personal investment for each of us somehow, though the future dividends remain fuzzy. ...
Read full article at The New Republic

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