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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why Are Hawkish Lawmakers Willing To Pay For An Escalation Of The War But Not For Health Care?

In recent days, heated policy discussions in Washington have largely focused on two topics: a possible escalation of the war in Afghanistan and health care legislation. Both a troop escalation and health care legislation carry significant price tags: roughly $100 billion and $80-$100 billion a year respectively. (It should be noted that health care reform, unlike a troop surge, would cut the deficit.)

In his New York Times column today, columnist Nicholas Kristof asks why hawks claim health reform is “fiscally irresponsible” while enthusiastically supporting a troop surge in Afghanistan, given the fact that fixing our broken health care system is, unlike a troop surge, essential to the health and well-being of Americans:

The health care legislation pays for itself, according to the Congressional Budget Office, while the deployment in Afghanistan is unfinanced and will raise our budget deficits and undermine our long-term economic security.

So doesn’t it seem odd to hear hawks say that health reform is fiscally irresponsible, while in the next breath they cheer a larger deployment of troops in Afghanistan?

Meanwhile, lack of health insurance kills about 45,000 Americans a year, according to a Harvard study released in September. So which is the greater danger to our homeland security, the Taliban or our dysfunctional insurance system?

Indeed, hawkish legislators have lined up to both demand a costly surge in U.S. troops in Afghanistan while at the same time claiming that deficit-cutting health care legislation would simply be too expensive:


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