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Jewish World Review April 10, 2003/ 8 Nisan, 5763

Larry Elder

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Left hypocritically asks how much the war cost | "What is the cost of this war in dollars to our budget? What is the cost to our economy?" said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who opposed President Bush's military action against Iraq.

Interesting how antiwar activists and politicians show concern over "excessive expenditures" -- yet only when it comes to projects they oppose. Actor/comedian Robin Williams, for example, said, "America is broke, basically, but Bush wants to wage a war that costs pretty much a billion dollars a month." James Cromwell, antiwar activist/actor said, "Billions of dollars for a war in Iraq to no purpose, and what to protect American citizens? Duct tape." Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said, "The costs are going to be long-term a lot more than the package presented to us to date."

What about Clinton-led incursions in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina? Intervention in the Balkans during the '90s cost the United States about $15 billion. According to the non-partisan Partnership for Effective Peacekeeping, currently the United Nations authorizes a civilian police force of 2,057, with five military liaison officers still patrolling and maintaining the peace. The annual cost comes to almost $79 million. Did the left scream about the "cost" of these humanitarian, rather than national security-led, interventions?

In my current book, "Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies and the Special Interests That Divide America." I describe a 10-hour post-George W. Bush election/anti-Republican rally called "Wake Up Democrats! Take Back the Country." Speakers included many of the usual suspects: actor Warren Beatty; former Los Angeles prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi; then House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo.; Reverend Jesse Jackson; Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future; Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles; former Green Party California senatorial candidate Medea Benjamin; adviser to California Governor Gray Davis (Democrat) S. David Freeman; Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio; Rep. Henry Waxman D-West Los Angeles.

Congressman Waxman showed the typical indifference toward costs when he said, "We belong to a community where we want to take care of everyone. . . . We must guarantee everyone access to health care, universal coverage." Actor Warren Beatty said that campaign finance reform is "the transcendent issue of American democracy in our time."

Robert Borosage called Bush a latter-day William McKinley, and accused the president's policies of "tax cuts for the wealthy" of creating an alliance of robber barons against the people. Borosage also attacked Bush for placing "arsenic in the water" and "salmonella in the food."

Edgar B. Anderson, an attorney and non-liberal, attended the entire rally. He pointed out that never, not once, did any of the speakers use the word . . . "taxpayer."

Again, since when does the left care about money?

During the 2000 election campaign, for example, Democratic candidate Al Gore pushed his plan for a "prescription drug benefit for seniors." Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office placed the cost at $450 billion over 10 years. Even George W. Bush, despite his limited-government reputation, advocated an expanded prescription drug benefit with a likely price tag in the hundreds of billions of dollars. On matters like this, and their apparent "excessive cost," the left typically goes AWOL.

Remember the Ken Starr investigation of Bill Clinton's alleged subornation of perjury and obstruction of justice charges? Clinton aide James Carville said, "This started out as a $40,000 land deal that lost money and about $50 million and five years later . . . (blah blah blah)." Did anybody show the same concern over the cost of the Watergate investigation of President Richard Nixon?

The left opposed Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, in part, on the basis of its "cost." But providing paid family medical leave seems of little concern to the left.

AmeriCorps, which "pays" volunteers; the demand for full funding for Head Start; presidential candidate John Kerry's, D-Mass., support for nationalized health care; and the demand to "bail out" profligate, in-debt state governments -- all appear indifferent to cost. Instead the euphemisms used designed to detract attention from our pockets being picked include federal assistance, federal aid, federal dollars, federal funding, state aid, etc. Notice anything missing? The word "taxpayer."

So when the left cries about "cost," assume they simply oppose the proposed program. When I once suggested to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., that our war against terrorism might necessitate cutbacks in social spending, she said, "Well, I just think that you're painting a horrible picture of what we're about. We're the greatest country in the world, and, in fact, we have always, always, made sure that defense was No. 1. What we have not done was to focus on terrorism, and we have failed in that regard, and yes, we need to do that. But do we have to educate our children and make sure that we find a cure for cancer, and Alzheimer's? You bet."

Sure, we can do it all. Just don't tell the taxpayer.

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JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of, most recently, "Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies and the Special Interests That Divide America." (Proceeds from sales help fund JWR) Let him know what you think of his column by clicking here.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate