Why doesn’t war spending count?

By Joyce Schelling, Special to the BDN
Posted March 02, 2011, at 5:45 p.m.

We spend $325 million every single day to fight the war in Afghanistan or almost $10 billion per month.

Every single day for 10 years, we have spent an average of $220 million to fight the war in Iraq, or $6.6 billion per month.

An additional $588 billion is projected to be spent in these wars, over the next decade.

All of these war costs are “off budget,” and are not part of the budget discussions threatening to “close down the government.”

To put this in perspective, we spend about $250 million per month to run the state of Maine, which is less than one day of war in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama’s proposed cuts in LIHEAP, heating assistance for the poor, would save $2.5 billion, about one week’s worth of being in Afghanistan. His proposed cuts to the Pell Grants, the main federal college financial aid program for the poor, would save $10 billion next year, which pays for one month of fighting.

In seeking to save $100 billion, equivalent to less than 10 months of fighting, the congressional Republican caucus proposes cuts in: state and local law enforcement, grants for state training and employment programs, Environmental Protection Agency climate protection activities, community health centers, nutritional food programs for pregnant women and children, HeadStart, and Title 1 grants to disadvantaged schools to name a few, along with even deeper cuts in the Pell Grants.

Instead of insisting that the war costs be on the table, which is where serious savings begin, the GOP thinks they were elected to stop future investment in America and Americans themselves and to dismantle the social safety network. In this same budget proposal, the GOP seeks to add $8.1 billion to the Department of Defense, increasing the Pentagon’s budget to $516 billion, or about $138 million every day for 10 years.

Is it patriotic to bankrupt our country?

Al-Qaida attacked the English public transportation system on July 7, 2005. Other terror attempts there have been foiled. England has spent $15 billion in Iraq and $18 billion in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2010. This is about what we spend in two months and none of these figures include the incredible human cost of these wars.

Our representatives need to hear from us. If our soldiers can risk their lives, we can make some phone calls. Caring for our people, rebuilding our roads and bridges, researching and developing the technologies that will create new industries, helping small business flourish  have made America the great country it has been. We need to fight for our future and we can’t wait.

Contact Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Olympia Snowe, Rep. Mike Michaud and Rep. Chellie Pingree and tell them the cost of the wars must be part of any budget discussions. It’s not OK to slash vital programs at home while we continue to spend billions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Joyce Schelling  of Orland is an educational consultant. Join the “Bring Our War $$ Home” rally/walk on Saturday, April 9 at 1 p.m. in front of the Paul Bunyan statue. For more information, call 942-9343.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/03/02/opinion/why-doesn%e2%80%99t-war-spending-count/ printed on July 22, 2014