This almost has to be a joke.

In lieu of a “war tax” to pay for a troop increase in Afghanistan, Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (NE) is proposing war bonds.

“We didn’t have a war tax in the second World War,” Nelson said, and instead the government sold Americans bonds.”People invested in their country, in that fashion [and] made a lot of sense back then. I don’t know why it might not make sense today, certainly in lieu of jumping to tax.”

First of all, taxes did rise during the second World War. Also, the top tax rate back then was already at 94% for the bracket over $200,000 ($2.5 million in today’s dollars).

Second of all, whether you’re borrowing from China or from Americans, you’re, um, still BORROWING. War bonds are just bonds, borrowed funds that have to be paid back with interest. The point of a war tax is to finance an escalation up front, instead of paying more in the long run and hiding the true cost.

The entire “war surtax” debate has shown the complete hypocrisy of the Washington establishment. They spend untold hours of speechifying and all kinds of printer’s ink bemoaning the budget deficit and how we’re putting unsustainable costs onto our children and grandchildren. When one Congressman calls their bluff – when he merely asks that Americans share the sacrifice of the troops and cover the costs of one war for one year – 6% of total war costs – the same fiscal scolds demur, if they speak at all – most of them haven’t said a damn word about this, being too busy screaming about how providing meager benefits in Social Security will bankrupt the nation.

In fact, even the Congressman who offered the bill, David Obey, is seemingly admitting that it’s not a serious effort and was simply done to “send a message.” If the message is that members of Congress think spending that helps people at home is dangerous and wrong, but any spending that projects hegemonic power abroad is magical and just, then message received. I mean, we’re begging for a piddling amount of infrastructure spending to put America back to work while we construct all kinds of public works projects in colonial outposts.

Incidentally, the White House isn’t even pretending that they’ll keep the war on budget – they expect a supplemental funding bill in the spring. And remember, the “budget” for troops in Afghanistan doesn’t even count all the shadow army money for contractors.

It would be hard for me to respond to any of these guardians of fiscal rectitude without laughing in their face.