Bush needs to make hard choices on paying for war

Friday, March 21, 2003 at 12:00am

President Bush has decided to go to war. But he has not made the hard choices necessary to pay for that war.

Even if the military victory is quick and decisive, the costs of the conflict and its aftermath could reach $100 billion or more. But instead of calling for a period of national sacrifice to pay off that bill, the president is doing exactly the opposite.

As he dispatches troops to the Persian Gulf, he is also dispatching economic advisers around the country to promote a fiscally foolish package of tax cuts that could cost $1.6 trillion in lost revenues over 10 years.

Highly targeted tax reductions that pour money directly into consumers' pockets make some sense. But the president's proposal, aimed mainly at wealthy investors, has little to do with stimulating spending and makes no sense at all.

We agree with the president: Once you make a threat to depose Saddam Hussein, you have to carry it out. But then you have a profound obligation to accept the implications of your own decisions, and that's what the president refuses to do.

In his speech Monday night, Bush made only one brief reference to this issue: "Americans understand the cost of conflict because we have paid them in the past." Bush

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