By Sean Cruz
Over the past several years, as news of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have mostly faded to the back pages, the American public has largely forgotten that wars cost vast sums of money and have bankrupted countless empires, nations and regimes since the dawn of civilization.
Since the federal government does not keep a bottomless pot of money on hand with which to finance its foreign wars, those expenses must be covered either by raising taxes or borrowing money, or both.
Congress created the debt ceiling in 1917 with the Second Liberty Bond Act, which helped finance the U.S. entry into World War I.
The debt ceiling was raised each year of World War II, but the Korean War was mostly paid for with higher taxes.
Ronald Reagan, patron saint of the selfish and shortsighted, canonized by the religious right, the unread, and the Fox-fed talk-radio masses, raised the federal debt ceiling eighteen times during his two terms, tripling the nation’s debt in the process.
Reagan outspent the Soviets into oblivion to end the Cold War, but borrowing the funds to do so had an enormous long-term cost, as has maintaining the worldwide military empire created during that period to the present day.
Gross debt in nominal dollars quadrupled during the Reagan and Bush presidencies from 1980 to 1992, and the net public debt quintupled in nominal terms during their twelve years in power.
George H.W. Bush continued the Reagan legacy, raising the debt ceiling nine more times in just four years, driving the Iraqis out of Kuwait, but leaving Saddam Hussein in power, and setting the stage for the catastrophic presidency of his lesser, intellectually ungifted son.
Bumbling George W. Bush, the lesser brain of the Bush/Cheney Co-Presidency,
began squandering the federal budget surplus he had inherited from President Clinton almost immediately after his appointment to the top job by his father’s Supreme Court in early 2000.
By the time the carnival ride came to an inglorious end eight years later, Bush/Cheney had raised the debt ceiling seven times, leaving the nation
engulfed in two wars on the far side of the globe and the economy plunging over the precipice…without finding either Osama bin Laden or WMDs, I might add….
Indeed, on the night of their 2004 re-election, “The Decider” gloated that he and Cheney had accumulated a great deal of political capital, and that he was going to spend all of it, which he proceeded to do, leading the nation, and the American Empire with it, to economic collapse.
Between March 1962 and April 2008, Congress altered the debt ceiling 69 times, not without ideological and partisan arguments, but never on the multi-trillion dollar scale of Bush and Cheney.
Now we are deep in the crisis Bush/Cheney created, a product of unbridled arrogance and Texas swagger, and the logical result of initiating distant wars with no real plan on how to pay for them beyond borrowing the money from China.
I remember them selling the invasion of Iraq to the American people with the ludicrous claim that Iraqi oil revenues would pay for the war, and we would be in and out of there before you know it.
Small wonder that they stand silent today, and not a soul in the nation looks to Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld for advice on any matter at all, having left us with the mother of all turds-in-the-pocket and a firm push on the downward slide.