Saturday, April 23, 2005

$300 Billion Tax Dollars (And Counting) Flowing Away From American Neighborhoods To Iraq

Why are we seeing (and going to see) less and less federal seed money to stimulate urban economic development, less federal revenues for tougher local crime fighting, less federal grant funds to supplement the upkeep of public parks and the repair of sidewalks and roads? Because hundreds of billions are being sent down the black hole that is the war in Iraq, and no revenues are being generated to replace those lost dollars.

To be precise, the total cost of combat and reconstruction has now pushed over $300 billion with this week's Senate approval of $81 billion, which the Pentagon requested for the beginning of May. It would be one thing if taking money from neighborhoods to pay for Iraq had made a difference in security from terrorism, but CIA advisers have already concluded that Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the breeding ground of terrorists, despite two years of US control of Iraq. Even our own State Department reported that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985.

Yet, we continue to bang our head against that wall, believing that if we just throw more money at the problem, we can solve Iraq by ourselves and still have enough money left over to address our problems at home. That's just plain fuzzy-headed. At some point, if you want to fight a war (even if it is not working) and to continue to address problems at home, you are going to have to raise new revenues.

I agree with those who argue that now that the Iraq War is going, we cannot simply and totally pull out without support, thus leaving Iraq to the faith-based terrorists who, thanks to the war, flooded into Iraq. That would be more disastrous and irresponsible than staying. We should leave gradually and with the help of the UN and other countries. However, if President Bush and Congress choose to keep the tax-dollar spigot to Iraq fully open as they have, then they are going to have to install some other proverbial faucets for our neighborhoods in the form of federal taxes to pay for the services that neighbors across the country demand.

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