Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 5, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

CUTTING ENTITLEMENTS....I'm not especially trying to pick on Tacitus, but on Saturday Bird Dog posted this:

Here's the part that makes me want to hit the CAPS LOCK key while typing. When we're running a deficit somewhere around half a trillion, it would sure be nice if the administration would cut something--anything--in exchange for this $5 billion per year spending increase [on foreign aid].

Then on Sunday Tacitus posted this about planned spending cuts for veterans:

The way I see it, you go into battle for your country, or spend a lifetime preparing to do so, and you get your no-cost meds when you're done. It's no gravy train I'm talking about here: the military life can be personally fulfilling, yes, but it's also lousy housing, sub-par pay, long separations from family, miserable postings, and, oh yeah, the horrors of war. So why the increasingly miserly treatment when it comes to medical care once the years of service are over?

I couldn't agree more, but of course I'm a liberal and I like programs like this. The Tacitus crowd are mostly libertarian/conservatives, however, and presumably think that military service is merely a voluntary contract between two consenting parties. The government is obligated to stick to its promises, but beyond that it doesn't owe either vets or current servicemen anything. If they don't like it, they don't have to sign up. And when it comes to budget cutting time, their entitlement programs are on the block just like everyone else's.

So what's the difference? Service to their country? All government employees do that. Risking their lives? Lots of servicemen don't risk their lives and lots of others do, so that can't be it either.

So what is it? Is it just that conservatives support entitlement programs they like and don't support entitlement programs they don't? That's OK, but it would be nice if they'd just fess up to this instead of pretending that opposing social programs is a matter of principle.

Kevin Drum 8:49 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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