CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The President told Jim Lehrer on PBS' News Hour tonight (see below) that he did not favor raising taxes, if that is what people are talking about when they wonder why nobody is making any home front sacrifices while troops are dying in Iraq. Well, Mr. President, I'm not in favor of raising taxes. But I think we ought to feel some kind of pinch while the nation is at war.
Maybe you could start by setting an example at the White House? Close down the Mess and start serving MREs, the modern version of c-rations that soldiers eat in the field. Turn down your thermostat to 60 degrees and make the White House staff wear heavy coats to work, like troops do in Afghanistan and Iraq when they operate in the winter desert.
Kick Dick Cheney out of the Veep's mansion and make him move into a motel. Let the wives and kids of soldiers stay there. Or use the mansion as a spot to billet soldiers before they ship out. Or turn it over to the relatives of injured soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital -- sort of like a Ronald McDonald House.
Sacrifice doesn't have anything to do with raising taxes, Mr. President. Here's a sacrifice: Move away from your wife and kids and mommy and daddy for a few months. Set up shop outside the bubble. Take a real life risk and confront a danger. But that would involve a sacrifice -- you'd have to give up the comfort zone and daily routine of Washington. Here's a start: Fire the White House chef. Eat MREs. For heaven's sake, Mr. President, do something, anything, to show the nation there is a war going on. Here's the Bush-Lehrer exchange.
MR. LEHRER: Let me ask you a bottom-line question, Mr. President. If it is as important as you've just said - and you've said it many times - as all of this is, particularly the struggle in Iraq, if it's that important to all of us and to the future of our country, if not the world, why have you not, as president of the United States, asked more Americans and more American interests to sacrifice something? The people who are now sacrificing are, you know, the volunteer military - the Army and the U.S. Marines and their families. They're the only people who are actually sacrificing anything at this point.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night. I mean, we've got a fantastic economy here in the United States, but yet, when you think about the psychology of the country, it is somewhat down because of this war.
Now, here in Washington when I say, "What do you mean by that?," they say, "Well, why don't you raise their taxes; that'll cause there to be a sacrifice." I strongly oppose that. If that's the kind of sacrifice people are talking about, I'm not for it because raising taxes will hurt this growing economy. And one thing we want during this war on terror is for people to feel like their life's moving on, that they're able to make a living and send their kids to college and put more money on the table. And you know, I am interested and open-minded to the suggestion, but this is going to be -
MR. LEHRER: Well -
PRESIDENT BUSH: -- this is like saying why don't you make sacrifices in the Cold War? I mean, Iraq is only a part of a larger ideological struggle. But it's a totally different kind of war, than ones we're used to.
MR. LEHRER: Well, for instance, Mr. President, some people have asked why -- and I would ask you about -- have you considered some kind of national service program, that would be civilian as well as military, that would involve more people in the effort to - not just militarily, but you talk about ideology, all this sort of stuff - in other words, to kind of muster the support of young Americans, and other Americans, in this struggle that you say is so monumental and so important.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah, I have considered whether it ought to be compulsory, non-military service, I guess is the best way to put it. I'm not for compulsory military service, by the way. I think the volunteer army is working and we got to keep it strong.
I made the decision early on to set up what's - something called the USA Freedom Corps, which could encourage volunteerism; call people to take time out of their lives to serve our country with compassionate acts. And by the way, volunteerism is high in America.