Economy easily whips Iraq in Florida primary

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Who cares who won the Democratic beauty contest in Florida?  Well, Clinton supporters, of course. What the returns indicate is that if there had been no campaign anywhere in the country, Hillary Clinton would have won easily.  But we knew that. (That’s why we have campaigns, and not just polls.)

Here’s the worst news:

From the WashPost blog, The Trail:

Early network exit polls out of Florida show the economy is the breakaway issue, with nearly half of GOP voters and more than half of Democrats calling it the nation’s top concern…  

Among Republicans:

Top issue: economy 47%, terrorism 19%, immigration 17%, Iraq 13%

Among Democrats:

Top issue: economy 55%, Iraq 25%, health care 17%

Why would that be?

It’s tempting to say that most people feel that the economy’s downturn will affect them directly, while the war in Iraq does not.  (Unless, of course, they are military famililes, in which case the war affects them very directly every minute of every day.)

It took a CNN military analyst, a retired general (whose name I did not write down), tonight to make the obvious connection:  You can’t talk about the economy, he said, without talking about the war, which clearly has a major impact on the economy.

The war has already sucked a trillion dollars out of the economy (maybe 2 trillion, some would argue.)

That’s too big a number to mean anything, the New York Times recognized:

The human mind isn’t very well equipped to make sense of a figure like $1.2 trillion. We don’t deal with a trillion of anything in our daily lives, and so when we come across such a big number, it is hard to distinguish it from any other big number. Millions, billions, a trillion – they all start to sound the same.

The way to come to grips with $1.2 trillion is to forget about the number itself and think instead about what you could buy with the money. When you do that, a trillion stops sounding anything like millions or billions.

For starters, $1.2 trillion would pay for an unprecedented public health campaign – a doubling of cancer research funding, treatment for every American whose diabetes or heart disease is now going unmanaged and a global immunization campaign to save millions of children’s lives.

Combined, the cost of running those programs for a decade wouldn’t use up even half our money pot. So we could then turn to poverty and education, starting with universal preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old child across the country. The city of New Orleans could also receive a huge increase in reconstruction funds.

The final big chunk of the money could go to national security. The recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that have not been put in place – better baggage and cargo screening, stronger measures against nuclear proliferation – could be enacted. Financing for the war in Afghanistan could be increased to beat back the Taliban’s recent gains, and a peacekeeping force could put a stop to the genocide in Darfur.

All that would be one way to spend $1.2 trillion. Here would be another:

The war in Iraq.

The National Priorities Project uses amore conservative figure of the costs to date, about $500-billion, but offers a chance for you to consider what it has cost taxpayers in your state, city, or Congressional district, and what the money could have bought instead.

In my home state of Wisconsin, for example:  

Taxpayers in Wisconsin paid $7.3 billion for the cost of the Iraq War through 2007. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:

4,360,674 People with Health Care OR

8,871,898 Homes with Renewable Electricity OR

170,704 Public Safety Officers OR

123,578 Music and Arts Teachers OR

1,158,301 Scholarships for University Students OR

863 New Elementary Schools OR

60,684 Affordable Housing Units OR

5,205,119 Children with Health Care OR

1,086,521 Head Start Places for Children OR

129,232 Elementary School Teachers

The shift in emphasis from the war to the economy has been underway in the presidential campaign for some time, following the polls.

It explains why the responses to Monday’s State of the Union speech, from the leading Democratic candidates, led with the economy and mentioned the war almost as an afterthought.

“It’s the economy, Stupid!” the sign in the Clinton war room proclaimed 16 years ago.

That sign will soon be hanging in the campaign headquarters of Clinton, Obama and Edwards if it’s not there already.

But it’s not just the economy, Stupid.  

It’s the war, and what the war is doing to the economy and to this country.

Who’s going to make those connections?

Despite our retired general friend at CNN, it won’t be the news media.

It won’t be the politicians, either — unless we make it an issue and make them address it.

That’s the challenge for those who want to stop this war — to keep it front and center in the presidential race and in Congressional campaigns across the country.

It’s up to us to make the connections between the war and people’s pocketbooks (as if there weren’t already enough other good and compelling reasons to stop the war.)

If it’s the economy, Stupid, it’s the economy because of the stupid war.

Time to refine and reshape the message, and to make some new signs for Iraq Moratorium #6 on Friday, February 15.  

Don’t let them put this life and death issue on the back burner.  The campaign is the opportunity to press the candidates on their commitments to end the war.  Let’s not lose it.  Let’s keep the heat on.  This war’s got to stop, and we’ve got to stop it.


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  1. Things could be worse.  I could be the one who sold the Florida strategy to Giuliani.

  2. thanks.

  3. The polls are an attempt to distract.  We should refuse to answer, refuse to pick A, B, or C, because the issues are all inter-related.  

    If it’s the economy, Stupid, it’s the economy because of the stupid war.

    Exactly.  Thanks, xof.

  4. see the connection between a nation spending its first discretionary dollars on killing Iraqis in an optional war… and decaying infrastructure, declining education, industrial decline, etc, etc.

    The government here cannot do anything useful because all the money is tied up in the imperial fleet.

    On top of that, American Labor is “too expensive” for corporations because we have to pay a tax equal to the amount of health care given in the form of profits for insurance and big pharma (half of our health care dollars are wasted in this manner, no other country even comes close to that level of waste)

    The reason the economy sucks is because of the military industrial complex and the health care mess. You cannot seriously address the one without the other two.

  5. Forget the numbers for a second.  We can plug them in later if we really want to.  Let’s think about this conceptually for a second.

    Right now the government spending part of the economy is running full tilt to pay for the occupation of Iraq.  Meanwhile, housing prices are falling, housing starts are very low, gasoline and fuel oil prices are high ($3.20+/- here in NY), mortgage defaults are way up, and mortgage lending is way down.

    We need stimulus, it’s argued, because there’s a recession.  The problem is that we’re already spending more than we have in government spending.  The budget deficit is huge.  And we’re spending all we can already on a personal level, so personal debt is also gigantic.  We’re not saving anything.  It’s not like we can take dollars from saving and make them push the economy because there’s no savings.  Sure, it’s possible that giving people $800 will allow them in the short term to increase sales (of goods) and present the illusion that the economy is coming back because of increased consumption.  But after the $800 is spent at Wal-mart and is gone and we have some more stuff to put in a storage container, then what?

    A lot  of the money from the stimulus package goes overseas to China.  China then uses the money to by US Treasury bonds.  There’s a stimulus, only it’s in China.  And in the US, which is already producing about as much as it can, the stimulus just increases debt (governmental and personal) after an orgy of more consumption spending.  Only we don’t really really notice the big debt and lack of stimulus until after November.

    It is vital that politicians make connections here.  The war is wrecking the economy.  Nafta is creating illegal immigration.  But listen to the speeches.  Is there a single candidate who makes the connections between problems and doesn’t focus on one issue while ignoring its connections to the others?

  6. that the war doesn’t directly affect most Americans, but I have.  I’m still proud of my nation though because before the economy went into the obvious toilet Iraq was a very decisive political issue.  Everything is interconnected though and when my nation is poor I think in the end they will like getting people killed even less, it reminds them of what awaits them if things stay on their current paths.  As a military spouse and family member I don’t see myself losing anything any faster or slower than I was before……..maybe winning in some ways a little bit faster because everybody can relate now when I talk about how my life totally sucks and things need to change NOW 😉

  7. It’s the war, and what the war is doing to the economy and to this country.

    Spot on. Plus–

    It’s the war and the Republicans (and Democrats like Sen. Clinton) who authorize and start wars of choice.

    It’s the oil and the Republicans (and Democrats like Sen. Landrieu) that protect the oil companies instead of leading energy independence.

    It’s the climate change and the Republicans (and Democrats like Rep. Dingell) that protect the automakers instead of the environment.

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