( – promoted by buhdydharma )
Just two days after announcing the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, President Obama held a jobs summit:
With unemployment levels above 10 percent, Obama said “We cannot hang back and hope for the best.”
But, mindful of growing anxiety about federal deficits, Obama also tempered his upbeat talk with an acknowledgment that government resources could only go so far and that it is primarily up to the private sector to create large numbers of new jobs.
He said while he’s “open to every demonstrably good idea … we also though have to face the fact that our resources are limited.”
Beyond the question of why a Democratic president is giving lip service to deficit hawks at a moment that screams for more Keynesian stimulus, the real question is this: why is it that we have to endure nearly a year of grueling political games just to get a weak, watered down health care bill that we have been told, all along, has to be deficit-neutral, yet no one bats an eye at throwing tens of billions more each year into wars?
A couple weeks ago, CBS News reported:
While Washington has put modest funding into civilian projects in Afghanistan this year — ranging from small-scale power plants to “public latrines” to a meat market — the real construction boom is military in nature. The Pentagon has been funneling stimulus-sized sums of money to defense contractors to markedly boost its military infrastructure in that country.
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.”
Nowhere has the building boom been more apparent than Bagram Air Base… To keep up with its exponential growth rate, more than $200 million in construction projects are planned or in-progress at this moment on just the Air Force section of the base….
In the near future, notes Pincus, “the military is planning to build a $30 million passenger terminal and adjacent cargo facility to handle the flow of troops, many of whom arrive at the base north of Kabul before moving on to other sites.” In addition, according to the Associated Press, the base command is “acquiring more land next year on the east side to expand” even further.
And that was before the escalation was announced. Have we been told what the escalation will cost in money, much less lives? And has anyone mentioned limited resources? Now, I’m all for nation-building, but how about we start at home?