Falling Off the $1 Trillion Cliff

We've fallen off an ugly cliff this Sunday. At 10 a.m., all of those little cost of war counters that have been furiously spinning away on countless websites crossed the $1 trillion mark. No alarm sounded. No bell rang. But, on the day before Memorial Day, the cost of the wars in cold, hard cash follows the human cost of the Afghanistan war into a new order of magnitude.

Just how much is $1 trillion? Let's put it into real-world terms. For that amount of money, you could do fantastic, life-changing things like:

  • Provide jobs for 1 million music/arts teachers for a year, and
  • Provide health care for 1 million children for one year.

And then, just for fun, you could also:

  • Buy Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

These wars aren't making us safer. They aren't worth the cost, and we don't need them. What people do need are jobs and help when they don't have enough work or any work at all. But instead of leading on the jobs issue, they're delaying and dissembling about the cost--while spending trillions on war! For example, the Senate just skipped town instead of staying in session long enough to pass an unemployment insurance extension. HuffPost Hill spells out what that means:

On June 1, several programs, including extended unemployment benefits, will expire. By the end of the week, 19,400 people will prematurely stop receiving checks, according to data from the Department of Labor. ...By the end of the following week, the number of premature unemployment exhaustions will climb to 323,400. The week after that, 903,000. By the end of the month, 1.2 million.

It will be the third time this year that lawmakers have allowed extended unemployment benefits to lapse, and the second time they've decided to leave town for recess fully knowing the lapse would cause panic and confusion among blameless layoff victims -- not to mention what Katz calls a "huge" administrative burden on state workforce agencies.

This is a disaster. People are losing jobs or have already been unemployed long-term. And while Congress is "nickel-and-diming" people who are suffering, those cost of war counters keep spinning.

Then, if you haven't yet, join Rethink Afghanistan on Facebook.

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