On March 10, 2010, Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich brought up a resolution to pull our troops out of Afghanistan within the next year. The bill was drafted to make Congress “claim responsibility for the troop casualties.”
Courageously, Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul was independent enough to support the resolution to debate the issue. Unfortunately for the American public, the measure failed after a 65-356 vote.
Has Congress so easily forgotten that Americans were told and blindly accepted that there were “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, and that it was imperative to invade with our military? This turned out to be false.
Similarly, there has been no real plan explained to the American public for an exit strategy in Afghanistan as mounting injuries and deaths occur and we continue to put our loved ones in harm’s way. In fact, we have no guarantee our troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan anytime soon. Some experts say it could take even longer than the six years we spent in Iraq.
According to the National Priorities Project, the U.S. has spent $1.05 trillion on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. This estimate does not include the unquantifiable loss of quality of life to our own families who are suffering at home. The Washington Post estimates, “about 300,000 U.S. military personnel who have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan are suffering from post-traumatic stress or major depression, a mental toll that will cost the nation as much as $6.2 billion over two years.”
The 50th District’s taxpayer share of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for fiscal year 2010 is $2.1 billion. For the same amount of money we could have:
- 855,167 – People with Health Care for One Year OR
- 37,119 – Public Safety Officers for One year OR
- 29,352 – Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR
- 312,253 – Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR
- 374,366 – Students receiving Pell Grants of $5550 OR
- 6,219 – Affordable Housing Units OR
- 776,673 – Children with Health Care for One Year OR
- 248,532 – Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR
- 29,842 – Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
- 3,702,002 – Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year
The 50th District’s question to Brian Bilbray, and to all of our representatives who voted against the resolution to open the issue to public debate, i.e. transparency, is simple: How do you plan on continuing to pay for these wars with no jobs in our country?
You can calculate any congressional district’s share of war cost spending for the fiscal year 2010 at nationalpriorities.org
Tracy Emblem is an attorney and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, California ‘s 50th District.