Evan Bayh has been going around, throwing cold water on the idea of a war surtax for Afghanistan, even while presenting himself as a fiscal conservative who thinks we must come up with a way to reduce the federal budget deficit. This is a harbinger for what these politicians mean when they say “reduce the deficit” – they don’t want to hear one word about the revenue side, only cutting social programs can be abided.

WALLACE: Senator Bayh, you brought up the question of cost, and the administration has put the cost — and this is kind of astonishing to, I think, a lot of people — $1 million per soldier per year, so if you sent 30,000 soldiers, that would be a $30 billion price tag.

Now, some top Democrats are talking about the idea — the new idea of a war tax to pay for the escalation in Afghanistan. Good idea?

BAYH: No, I don’t think it’s a good idea, not at this point, Chris. First of all, you need to provide for the nation’s security regardless of your financial situation, and there’s no bigger deficit hawk in Congress than I am.

I think we need to start coming to grips with this. We’re going to have a big vote coming up on the debt ceiling. I don’t think we should vote to raise the debt ceiling until we have a strategy in place to get our deficits down.

So we’ve got to take the fiscal situation seriously, but, number one, national security comes first.

Number two, we’ve got to look at cutting spending in other parts of the budget before we even talk about raising taxes.

There’s the obvious disconnect between the sacrifice Evan Bayh demands of middle class Americans while absolving himself of any sacrifices required for the cheerleading of multiple wars. This is a man who has spent the last year warning of unsustainable deficits, but when that money is used to occupy foreign countries, no strings can come attached to the funds. Wars simply don’t have to be paid for – but giving old people a minimum retirement benefit and the right to basic health care must be taken away because the country cannot afford it.

But it gets worse than that. Bayh, who is threatening to vote against a rise in the federal debt ceiling, essentially threatening to default on the United States’ debts, if he doesn’t get a commission to cut Social Security and Medicare, appeared on Andrea Mitchell’s show today, and after saying that “there’s not going to be a war tax” because nobody should have to sacrifice in a time of war (except for the lives of the soldiers shipped there), responded to Richard Lugar’s comment that health care reform should be set aside while Afghanistan is debated by saying this:

We have to be able to do several things simultaneously.

Now keep in mind, this comes on the heels of Bayh arguing that we cannot raise taxes in the middle of a recession to pay for a war. But Congress has to be able to do two things at once. Like, um, pay for a war while providing for economic recovery, the way that Franklin Roosevelt was able to do in the early 1940s?

Bayh keeps about eight different arguments, half of them contradictory, in the air at once. And as a result, he comes off like a selfish, entitled brat, wanting to force sacrifice on the lower classes while protecting himself and his buddies. Or, if you prefer, a typical member of the United States Senate.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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