It’s the middle of April, and most of us have forked over our federal taxes for 2006.
A significant portion of those taxes as well as the taxes we’ll be paying this year — are going to Iraq, where the war is currently costing us about $20 million every hour, day and night.
Meanwhile, if President Bush’s fiscal-year 2008 budget plan is fulfilled, total Pentagon spending will grow to $623 billion — an all-time record. Total military spending by the rest of the world’s nations combined is about $700 billion.
Any feeble Bush Administration attempts to hold down the federal deficit depend solely on domestic cuts, with little or no restraint on military costs.
At least 18 environmental programs will see their budgets reduced by a total of $2.6 billion. That will undercut efforts to improve water quality, clean up toxic wastes, improve energy efficiency, and much more.
At least 14 educational programs will be slashed to the tune of $6.5 billion. They include such popular programs as LEAP, Head Start, Even Start, school safety, Pell scholarships, and vocational training.
Domestic budgets are slated to be cut in the name of fiscal responsibility, but Bush wants to turn around and squander all of those short-term “savings” on the Iraq occupation.
The money “saved” by slashing the environmental budget will pay for a day and a half of occupation. “Savings” from the cuts in education programs will pay for less than four days in Iraq.
The invasion and occupation of Iraq have cost American taxpayers an average of about $3750 per US family so far. Here’s what that has bought us:
Almost 3300 US troops have died.
The Pentagon estimates that 24,000 US troops have been seriously wounded, but that includes only those directly injured by combat. The total casualties are much higher.
2733 American children have lost a parent in Iraq.
The number of Iraqi civilian deaths from violence is unknown; estimates range as high as 600,000, with the total sure to be well into the hundreds of thousands.
A minimum of 1.7 million Iraqis have fled their homes.
1.6 million US troops have done a tour of duty in Iraq so far.
Of those, more than 500,000 veterans of the war will be afflicted by mental disorders or psychological problems.
The Bush Administration is determined to push those numbers higher, while arguing that if Congress pulls funding, it will be putting US troops in danger. That’s the reddest of red herrings.
It’s the continued funding of this war by the Congress and taxpayers that is keeping the troops in danger.
A year ago, and two years ago, war supporters predicted disaster if the US were to pull out of Iraq. They conjured up images of sectarian violence among Iraqis – precisely the kind of violence that has erupted anyway, alongside stepped-up attacks on US troops.
During debate over the Iraq-war funding bill now before Congress (the eighth so far), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) sponsored an amendment that would have allowed use of the funds only for closing down the occupation and bringing troops home.
But leading Democrats, cowed by Bush’s phony charge that they aren’t “getting our troops the funding they need”, helped kill Lee’s amendment. That’s preposterous. There’s enough cash on hand to keep current Iraq operations going until at least July.
Last year, Nobel-prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimated that it would cost $6 to $10 billion for us to demobilize and leave Iraq to the Iraqis. That could be done for what it costs to extend the occupation by only two to three weeks.
Every Senator and House member needs to be reminded of what all opinion polls show: that by the time next April 15 rolls around, Americans don’t want to still be paying this Iraq death-tax.
STAN COX is a plant breeder and writer in Salina, Kansas. Write him at email@example.com