Plain Talk – 5.03.11
Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 10:17 am
By: Nicolle Gallagher
Osama Bin Laden is dead. Now all we have to figure out is who is going to pay for it.
It took almost a decade to find the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. A good friend lost her uncle and her cousin that day – just about everyone I worked with at the time, including myself, had friends or relatives who were at ground zero when the towers fell. Many survived, 2,966 did not. And now, over nine years later, an entirely new generation of Americans spontaneously celebrated in front of the White House on Sunday evening after the announcement. Once the elation subsides, though, how will they react when they realize who is being handed the bill?
I don’t want to diminish the achievement of our intelligence community, President Obama or the military in any way – but killing Bin Laden wasn’t free. It’s cost trillions of dollars since 2003 and those were borrowed dollars.
Of all of the politicians issuing statements about the Bin Laden assassination, I bet Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is the most relieved since now the press will be off of him for a while. Why would a presidential candidate not want press coverage?
Well, he seems to have forgotten that the United States is at war at all. Romney wrote an opinion piece in a New Hampshire newspaper accusing President Obama of “…one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history.” It must be nice to forget that we are war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and have been for almost a decade. This was a written op-ed piece, not an off the cuff comment caught on camera. It was written and re-written and proof-read presumably several times and no one – not the candidate, not the staff and definitely not Mitt Romney thought for one second “Wait a minute – this isn’t peacetime.” Not once? That certainly tells me a lot about the character of Mitt Romney.
When I first read his comments, I thought “Wow, have we been at war so long that we’ve forgotten what peacetime really feels like?” But the more I thought about it — I realized that it wasn’t that we had forgotten what peacetime feels like — but instead, I think a lot of civilians have forgotten what war feels like. Or at least one civilian who wants to be president did.
Never in our history have American citizens been so disconnected from the true cost of war. We didn’t have to ration supplies like our grandparents did.
We didn’t see the images of dead and decaying bodies that our parents saw during Vietnam. We weren’t even allowed to see flag draped coffins of killed soldiers returning home until President Obama lifted that ban. We didn’t even have to conserve the very resource that our soldiers gave their lives to protect.
We said we were after Bin Laden – but we all know that Bin Laden wasn’t in Iraq, we were lied to about WMD’s and invaded and destabilized the entire Middle East because of oil. One would think that when we ask American men and women to risk their lives to protect our access to a commodity – we would at least have the common decency to treat that commodity as preciously as the human lives protecting it for us.
But we didn’t. We bought bigger houses, bigger gas guzzling cars, and chanted “drill baby drill” while BP was flooding the Gulf of Mexico oil and destroying the future of Americans who make their living in the gulf.
And just to top it all off – we didn’t even pay for this war with our own money. We borrowed it from China and now we have to pay it back. And guess what? Our Congress – including our own Stephen Fincher – has decided that we’ll pay for it with Medicare.
We’ve been funding the government with borrowed money because we didn’t raise the money on our own.
We could have, but Bush and Cheney knew that the American people wouldn’t let the war go on as long as it did if we were actually paying higher taxes for it.
So instead they borrowed the money for it. And to ensure that they got re-elected, they borrowed more money to fund Medicare Part D – that made the pharmaceutical companies very happy to donate to re-election campaigns.
And now that the war in Iraq is beginning to wind down, the true size of our debt and the cost of these wars has sunk in. The same politicians who were more than happy to take Chinese money years ago are now screaming about debt and spending. Yes, spending did get us into the mess we are in, but don’t for a second believe that “entitlements” like Medicare are the cause of our problems. If Bush and Cheney had told the American people that they wanted to invade Iraq, but in order to pay for it, we’d have to abolish Medicare would you have voted for them?
The fact is, we are in debt – I’m a liberal Democrat and that concerns me, too. We have to pay back the money that we’ve borrowed before the interest cripples us. We have several ways of doing that – tax the corporations – like the oil companies who have profited every year since the wars began, or we can destroy Medicare. That’s the choice.