George Graham

It’s the Economy, Stupid. So Let’s Bring the Troops Home

billPresident Obama called in Bill Clinton (photo at right) on Tuesday in a desperate attempt to get a bad health care bill passed. Clinton’s argument: a bad bill is better than nothing because something has to be done to contain health care costs. If health care spending keeps rising at current rates, the country will go broke.

So, once again, “it’s the economy, stupid.”

Trouble is the health care bill passed by the House and the proposals being considered in the Senate won’t do much, if anything, to contain costs. There’s no provision for regulating what insurance companies or health care providers can charge and no “robust” competition from a “public option” to put the brakes on their profits. And you can bet they aren’t going to rein themselves in.

Obviously, the current crop of Democrats don’t have the guts or decency to reform America’s ailing health care system. Too many of them are beholden to the industry, which has contributed tens of millions to their campaign chests. And an alarming number of them have a secret agenda dictated by forces in the “religious right.” Their objective is to roll back the progress made by American women over the years, not to provide coverage for the 47 million uninsured or contain costs.

So what’s the big hurry?  Let the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats sabotage the health care reform effort. The voters will wake up eventually to the fact that they’re getting hosed. And, like it or not, politicians will have to clean up the health care mess.

Meanwhile, it’s still the economy, stupid.

spendingThe country is going broke – if it’s not broke now – and no amount of stimulus spending or tax breaks or whatever is going to fix that anytime soon. But there’s one way to turn things around in a hurry: Bring the troops home.

According to US Labor Against the War, the money spent in Iraq and Afghanistan could have paid for a year’s worth of health care for 140 million people – almost every working person in the U.S. The wars have cost each U.S. family $12,750 so far. So why are America’s leaders still throwing good money after bad?

Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t getting any better. In many ways, they’ve become a lot worse since the Americans invaded them. They will never be like America, so let them alone. Outside intervention causes more problems than it solves. And – here’s the really important point – America can’t afford it.

I’ve complained before that the stimulus package was too scatter-shot. I think more of the money should have been spent on infrastructure, instead of all those gimmicky, politically correct projects. And America is spending money on infrastructure – huge gobs of money. But not in America. In Afghanistan.

In fiscal year 2009, for example, the civilian U.S. Agency for International Development awarded $20 million in contracts for work in Afghanistan, while the U.S. Army alone awarded $2.2 billion — $834 million of it for construction projects. In fact, according to Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, the Pentagon has spent “roughly $2.7 billion on construction over the past three fiscal years” in that country and, “if its request is approved as part of the fiscal 2010 defense appropriations bill, it would spend another $1.3 billion on more than 100 projects at 40 sites across the country, according to a Senate report on the legislation.”

To me, that’s absurd. America’s leaders need to take a long, hard look at their priorities. Sure, it would be nice to build power plants and “public latrines” for the folks in Afghanistan. And I’m sure the Afghan Army could use some awesome new weapons. But, hey, the money is needed just as badly back in the U.S.

It’s time to bring the troops home – not only from Afghanistan and Iraq but also from all those unnecessary bases around the globe. I’m sure the President and Congress could find more productive uses for the trillions of dollars being spent on a futile attempt to intimidate the world.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for