Apart from their views on foreign policy, liberals should worry. A Clinton presidency would mean surrendering any hope of shifting federal resources to problems like poverty, health care, urban blight, transportation and student loan debt. Wars are expensive, and money spent on nation-building in Iraq or Afghanistan or some other place is money that can’t be spent on nation-building at home.
Wars are also a major reason the government runs a big deficit every year. A big deficit is the enemy of liberal initiatives, because Republicans don’t have to oppose them on the merits: They can just say, “How are we going to pay for it?” Or, “The deficit is already out of control.”
By refusing to pay for his wars with higher taxes, and thus inflating the deficit, Bush made it difficult if not impossible for Democrats to spend more money on their favorite programs. Since 9/11, discretionary spending unrelated to defense and security has dropped sharply as a share of GDP. Defense spending, however, has climbed.