A Nation, Leaning Forward

Over and over, President Bush and his Cabinet members have talked about sacrifices Americans can - indeed, must - make to fight global terrorism.

Those words have now been translated into specific items on Mr. Bush's proposed federal budget. The war effort demands that government spending priorities reflect the same sacrifice asked of all Americans.

The Bush budget calls for the biggest increase in defense spending in two decades - $48 billion - plus $37.7 billion for homeland security. That requires some leveling of funding or cuts in domestic programs.

Such a budget also requires members of Congress to ignore the pleas of their campaign donors or particularly vocal local constituents and sacrifice pet spending projects.

The fiscal belt-tightening must effectively go all the way around the government's waistline. Otherwise, calls for national sacrifice in other areas will ring hollow.

While there's been no food rationing or resumption of the draft, Americans' historic sense of security carries a price beyond a monetary one.

From American kids sending dollars to help Afghan children to asking citizens to give 4,000 hours of volunteer time to community, the Bush administration has been working to show the country that it's not just flag-waving or patriotic political rhetoric that will stop terrorists in their tracks.

The idea of sacrifice must be born out of caring and giving. Only then does it carry weight and meaning.

For many, buying war bonds, or saving tin and fat, seemed relegated to history's dustbin until the World Trade Center towers collapsed. Now, out of the rubble, Americans are discovering the need to rise to new occasions. Congress can, too.

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