When asked by USA Today‘s pollsters last week, sixty-eight percent of Americans said we worry that the cost of the Afghanistan War hurts our ability to fix problems here in the U.S. This week, we learned just how right we were about that. Friday’s terrible jobs report shows that a crushing 9.8 percent of us are unemployed. And, millions of us are about to lose our lifeline because Congress refuses to extend unemployment insurance benefits. We’re spending $2 billion per week — per week! — in Afghanistan while millions of people face going hungry during the holidays.
Do our elected officials not get it? We’re drowning out here, and the administration is throwing money that could put Americans back to work at a failed war on the other side of the planet. In fact, that’s where the president was when the jobs report came out this morning — in Afghanistan, talking about “progress” again.
Now, it’s great that the president met with wounded troops. Goodness knows they deserve our attention. Their pictures ought to be on the cover of every newspaper until this war ends. But it would be better if the president stopped sending them to get wounded for no good reason, and it would be even better if the hundreds of billions of dollars we’re wasting each year over there were putting people back to work in the U.S.
Here’s one way to think about it: just one Hellfire missile fired in Afghanistan costs $58,000.00. That’s enough money to provide unemployment insurance benefits for almost 4 people for a full year. For the full cost of the war for one week, about $2 billion, we could extend unemployment insurance for about 6.7 million people for a week. What are the 2 million people who are about to lose their unemployment insurance benefits supposed to think when they hear senators yelling about the cost of keeping them from going hungry, while at the same time those senators shove enough money to keep the benefits going into that money pit of a war?
Do we care more about dropping bombs than we do about putting Americans to work and keeping them from going hungry when they get laid off? Are those the kind of people we’re paying to represent us in Washington, D.C.?
If so, we want our money back. And while you’re at it, bring back the money being wasted on a war that’s not making us safer. We’d like to use it to put people to work again.