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April 14th, 2011
Progressive Caucus Head Rep. Grijalva Leads Press Conference Highlighting Taxpayer Cost of War in Afghanistan Ahead of Tax Day

Washington, D.C.– Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, today led a press conference with Rethinking Afghanistan highlighting the cost of our troop presence in that country ahead of this year’s April 18 tax day. As Grijalva and other speakers noted, approximately 27 cents of every federal tax dollar now goes to pay for the war in Afghanistan despite a majority of the American people calling for an end to our military presence there.

“There are very few national needs that rise to the level of ending our costly, destructive and increasingly pointless wars, and April 18 reminds us just where our money is going despite our own preference to bring our troops home,” Grijalva said. “This remains a moral, fiscal and national security disaster that is draining our treasury, and for what? The American people have been asking that question for years without a satisfactory answer, and I think it’s time we answered them by bringing our troops home. The Progressive Caucus People’s Budget proposal does that, and I believe the American people – including our troops overseas – deserve nothing less.”

Statements from other press conference participants include:

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.)

“Nearly two-thirds of Americans people think this war isn’t worth fighting. And they’re the ones paying for it in blood and treasure. During the week that we ask the American people to pay for government services, let’s make sure we’re listening to what the people have to say. Let’s make their priorities our priorities. Let’s have a budget – The People’s Budget – that reflects their values.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine)

This week Congress is taking up huge cuts in programs that support our economy and help those who need it the most. Most of those cuts and most of those programs could be paid for with what we spend in Afghanistan in a few hours or a few days. “

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)

“The American people want to put an end to these wars and to immoral budget priorities that favor tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires over investments in job creation and our economic security,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The direct costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 are undeniable and the hidden costs to our returning veterans, our nation’s standing abroad, and lost opportunities to invest in job creation, education, and quality healthcare here at home will affect us for generations to come. It is time to end these wars, to bring our troops home, and to implement a smart security policy which prioritizes the diplomatic and humanitarian solutions necessary to prevent conflicts before they start.”

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.)

“We cannot continue this fool’s errand in Afghanistan — not morally and not fiscally. Nearly a decade in Afghanistan has cost us thousands of American and Afghani lives, and it has cost taxpayers almost $600 billion. In a recent survey of my constituents’ top priorities, they ranked getting out of Afghanistan second only to job creation. If we want to balance the budget without ending the social safety net, we must end this war now.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)

“For a decade, the cost of these wars have left thousands of Americans dead, tens of thousands of Americans disabled, and created a multi trillion-dollar deficit for our nation. As we examine budget deficits this week, all Members of Congress need to seriously consider the impact of these wars on American taxpayers and American families.”

Rev. Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners

“Today, too few know the cost of war. The financial costs are being put on our children and the human cost is relegated to a small portion of society. With the growing national concern over the deficit, and the desperate need for investment in our future, the amount of money spent on war is no longer tenable. On March 28th I stopped eating. 36,000 people have now joined a fast to call for our politicians to get their moral priorities straight and make better choices about the budget. The first spending we should cut is from a misguided policy in Afghanistan that wastes money and lives.”

Bruce Fein, author, columnist

“The authentic annual national security budget approximates a staggering $1.2 trillion. That military opulence is making the United States less free, less safe, and less prosperous. Our global projection of military force and assertion of a uniquely American unilateral right to commence war against any other nation under the banner of ‘regional stability’ or the “credibility of the United Nations Security Council creates more enemies than it eliminates. Perpetual war makes us less free in its salute to indefinite detention without accusation or trial, military commissions that combine judge, jury, and prosecutor, presidential assassinations of citizens with no judicial review, and indiscriminate intrusive searches and surveillance reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984. War is the mother of fear, and fear is the mother of tyranny. Lavish and wasteful national security expenditures are bankrupting the nation, and forcing government borrowing at $4 billion per day. All previous Empires have come to ruination on endless wars and punishing debt, and we should learn from those examples.”

Matthew Hoh, Afghanistan Study Group

“At a time when the US economy is struggling with 14 million unemployed and record levels of debt that are cutting police, fire and other essential services in local communities across the country, the US is spending $119 billion a year participating in a civil war in Afghanistan; a land-locked country with a GDP of $16 billion dollars, that is ruled by a corrupt and illegitimate kleptocracy and where al-Qaeda has no meaningful presence. It is time for both Democrats and Republicans to recognize that our current strategy in Afghanistan is a waste of our Nation’s limited fiscal resources, that our policy has been counter-productive in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and that the US’ priority for nation-building should be in our own towns and cities.”

Jacob Diliberto, Veterans for Rethinking Afghanistan
“Fiscal conservatism demands opposing this war. What started as Operation Enduring Freedom became “Operation Enduring Obligation.” The Afghanistan War is another sinkhole of big government waste and massive fraud, and it’s destroying the military from the inside. Suicide rates are at all time high, and the enlisted divorce rate is now 80 percent. The American soldier bears the brunt of the war while too many in Washington, D.C. refuse to face the deep costs of the war they refuse to end.”

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