Something that has been pretty disappointing has been the inability of Democrats to frame the cost of the war in Iraq and its effect on the quality of our domestic lives. Sure, some have cited the absolute numbers, and some have made allusions to the alternative uses the money could have been used for, but nobody has really driven this point home.
Not using the cost of the war as a frame for domestic policy discussion is a rather shocking and glaring missed opportunity.
Let alone that the over-extension of our National Guard helped slow the response to Hurricane Katrina, the financial resources used in the Iraq war could have drastically changed the face of the nation domestically.
Every domestic funding issue could and should be framed in light of the money being spent on the war in Iraq. A great resource tool from the National Priorities Project called www.costofwar.com makes analysis of these comparative uses amazingly simple. Not only does it have a running counter of the real time cost of war in Iraq (at the moment this post was published $415 billion), it will also break down the important programs that the same amount of money could have funded in these areas:
So instead of spending $414 billion in Iraq, we could have paid for:
55 Million children to attend a year of head start
249 Million children to have health insurance for a year.
7.2 Million public school teacher salaries.
20 Million four year scholarships at public universities.
3.7 Million units of public housing.
The tool also breaks down the cost on the state city and city level, and gives the corresponding amount of resources that could have been given to important social programs for each type of unit.
Let’s take Texas, our fearless leader’s home state. Instead of going to war in Iraq, Texas’s share of the cost of the war in Iraq has been 33 billion dollars. Instead of contributing to fighting and losing a war half way around the world, Texas could have used this same amount of money to pay for:
4.5 Million children to attend a year of head start.
20 Million children to have health insurance for a year.
588,000 public school teacher salaries.
1.6 Million four year scholarships at public universities.
306,000 public housing units.
Democrats could help bring a speedier end to the war in Iraq, as well as provide some biting political blows, if they asked the question:
“Would you rather have the war in Iraq, or would you rather have 20 million insured children?”
It’s a version of the famous line are you better off than you were four years ago…..with an Iraq war twist.