Rep. Alan Grayson Introduces the "War Is Making You Poor" Act
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I added up all past deficits (minus surpluses) since 1916 (when the debt was nearly zero), prorated according to each year's ratio of narrowly defined national security spending--military, veterans, and international affairs--to total federal spending, expressing everything in dollars of constant purchasing power.
Higgs’ findings should be an integral part of the debate over any “war of choice.” The sum was equal to 91.2 percent of the national debt held by the public at the end of 2006.
Last week, Grayson gave a powerful speech laying out the rationale behind this rather bold measure. Below is a transcript of the address, delivered May 21 on the floor of the House:
Mr. Speaker. Today I introduce H.R.5353: the "War Is Making You Poor Act." The "War Is Making You Poor Act" does three things: first, it requires the administration to carry out the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with only the $549 billion set forth in the president's budget for defense spending, without the additional $159 billion the president has asked for, for the sake of these so-called emergency wars, which now stretches into nine years in one case, and seven years in the other. My view is that $549 billion is enough for these wars, and whatever wars the president plans to engage in.
Secondly, it takes the money saved from the wars' separate allocation and it uses it for a very important purpose. With the economy the way it is, people in America are suffering. It takes that money -- or 90 percent of it -- and it uses it to make $35,000 of everyone's income in America tax free, and $70,000 for married couples. Let's be clear about that; let's be clear about what I said. With the money saved from the "War Is Making You Poor Act," we could give $35,000 of every American's income tax free, and $70,000 for married couples. And in addition to that, it takes the remaining money and reduces the federal deficit and the federal debt. I think those are three things, all of which need to be done, and this bill brings them all together.
Let's start with the fact that the administration has asked for $549 billion to basically keep the lights on in the Pentagon, and beyond that asked for another $159 billion for the wars. Let's see exactly how much that means. On this chart here you can see that the U.S. military spending is as much as the entire rest of the world combined. And in fact, the ones who come in second are our NATO allies in Europe, who I don't expect to be attacking us anytime soon. Beyond that, you have to go all the way down to China to get to any country that is conceivably ever going to be a military enemy and we outspend China by almost five to one.
Beyond that, we get into our allies in East Asia and Australia and you have to go all the way down to Russia, who we outspend almost 10 to one, before you get to any country that could conceivably be a military opponent. Why is this necessary? If we're going to have military spending that amounts to this much -- half of all the military spending in the world -- do we have to have on top of that another $159 billion -- on top of that base budget -- for the wars? I think not. Particularly when people in America are suffering. So I believe that the thing we have to do is take that $159 billion the president has set aside -- I'm not saying he has to stop the wars, we're not giving a cut-off date for the war. We're just saying that you need to fund it out of the base budget of $549 billion. And we take 90 percent of that money and give it back to the American people.