"The war in Iraq has come at significant cost to the American economy. It has led to a spike in oil prices, resulted in massive deficit spending," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued at a recent press conference.
The surge of U.S. troops in Iraq has brought positive changes to that war-ravaged country. What are Democrats, eager to win the 2008 election, to do? Simple calculus: The price of oil is up; we're still at war. It's obvious, then: Blame the war for high gas prices.
It's economic fear-mongering -- with an added appeal for the anti-war crowd. In West Virginia, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama told supporters, "When you're spending over $50 to fill up your car because the price of oil is four times what it was before Iraq, you're paying a price for this war."
Noted Stanford economist John Taylor said, "A lot of people could listen to that and think it sounds reasonable." But the high price of gasoline is largely a function of increased demand for oil in the global economy. And a more secure Iraq could mean more oil.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton also hit that note last week when she argued in her big Iraq speech, "Our economic security is at stake."
Unemployment is at 4.8 percent and inflation is under control. No matter: With mortgage foreclosures eating into the housing market and Wall Street investment houses holding too much bad debt, many Americans are afraid of losing what they have. (I get that. I work in a shrinking industry. But the larger picture isn't as dim as Democrats and the media paint it.)
Savvy Democrats have found a way to capitalize on market fears. Just as they frequently attribute every hot day to global warming -- not weather -- now they lay every economic problem at Iraq's door. If the economy is not strong, they blame what Obama calls the "Bush/McCain war."
Sure, it's fair to oppose the war and cite the cost to American taxpayers. Although, once a war has started, we have to pay for it.
So when Democrats talk about how the war hurts the U.S. economy, it sounds to me as if they are arguing that U.S. troops can spill their blood in Iraq, but not if gasoline hits $4 per gallon. Then the cost is too high.
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