Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bill Maher: What if we never went to war in Iraq or Afghanistan?

As we make our final approach into the Midterm Elections, Bill Maher has returned like the Prodigal son to provide a reality check on the state of our politics delivered, as always, with the appropriate dose of snark.  This week, Maher posed a question to the panel that, given the overwhelming focus on our economy and government spending as of late, one would assume more people would find profound - especially those in the tea party crowd:  What if the United States had never gone to war in Iraq or Afghanistan?  This is a question that can literally spawn endless parallel realities as we try to imagine how the political dynamics of the middle east would have evolved without United States intervention and if that lack of intervention would (or would not) have effected America's interests overseas.  However, the first thought it triggered in my mind was: how much money could our government have SAVED by not going to war in Iraq or Afghanistan???

As a quick reminder, the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program; aka the "Bailout") that was asked for and implemented by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson of the Bush Administration back in the fall of 2008 (3-4 months before Obama set foot into office) came with a spending price tag of $700 Billion dollars.  This money, much to the disappointment of the American public, went to banks, financial houses like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, etc. and auto makers like GM and Chrysler in order to avoid a [further] financial meltdown of our economy as we know it.  OK so keep that number in mind, that's $700 Billion with a "B" ok?

The Stimulus Package that is credited to Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner of the Obama Administration has a total dollar figure of $792 Billion, however $288 Billion of that actually takes the form of tax cuts to various small businesses, states and other business entities.  Which means that of the $792 Billion and change that make up the Stimulus Package, the actually money being SPENT by the Federal Government that inspired an entire Tea Party movement to take the streets is $504 Billion dollars.

So, under President Bush we gave $700 Billion to the banks and auto makers (BTW $70.1 Billion has been repaid to the Federal Government so far) and under President Obama we are in the process of giving $504 Billion in Stimulus Package money to businesses and infrastructure entities.

Now let's consider the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq shall we? (and I'm not even going to get into the cost of human life associated with either war, which quite frankly is immeasurable)

Our Federal Government, as in the Federal Government of the United States of America, has spent $334.5 Billion dollars and counting on the war in Afghanistan.    To put this particular war into perspective, that's HALF the amount of the TARP (but unlike the TARP there is ZERO possibility of any financial return), and that's roughly 3/5 the cost of Obama's Stimuls Package (but unlike the Stimulus Package it won't build any hospitals, roads or bridges in America).

Our Federal Government, and again I'm talking about the Federal Government of the United States of America, spent $747.9 Billion dollars on the war in Iraq.  Putting that figure into perspective, that's about $50 Billion dollars MORE than what we handed out to the assholes on Wall Street.  It's literally $243 Billion dollars MORE than what Obama is spending on the Stimulus Package that has the Tea Party's panties up in a bunch.  In fact, the total price tag on the Stimulus Package ($792 Billion) is almost the same total price tag on the Iraq war, the only difference is the Iraq war didn't give any tax breaks to anybody.

And for those of you keeping track at home, the cost of both wars IS, in fact, over 1 Trillion dollars when you add them together ($1.082 Trillion to be exact).  Do you know what else is 1 Trillion dollars?  The ENTIRE United States deficit.

So given the literal cost of going to war:
A) Where would we be financially if we had never gone to war in either Iraq or Afghanistan?
B) Why isn't the Tea Party anti-war?
C) Would Obama have won the Presidency if we had never gone to war in either country?

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