More than 50 opponents of the war in Iraq gathered around the Peace Pole in the courtyard of the Venice United Methodist Church at lunchtime on Thursday, August 16, to release MoveOn.org’s new report, “The War at Home.” The report, which was customized for each congressional district in the United States, details the cost of the Iraq war to local taxpayers and looks at the trade-offs in local community investment. Over 150 similar press conferences were held across the country.
Handmade signs surrounding the courtyard broke the numbers down for the gathered activists and the media: $10 billion a month nationally, $4,100 from each American household, $3,850 a second, $14.4 billion from Los Angeles County alone and $57.77 billion in California tax dollars. According to national data, California pays far more in tax dollars toward the cost of the war than any other state, carrying more than 10 percent of the burden of the entire $456 billion that has been spent thus far.
Taxpayers from Santa Monica’s 30th Congressional District were on hand to decry the $1.37 billion that has been spent locally on the war and to enumerate their other suggested uses for those funds. According to the report, that same $1.37 billion could have been used to provide health care coverage for 560,988 people; hire 20,607 new elementary school teachers; use renewable electricity in 2,433,801 homes; or hire 18,258 port container inspectors for California. It was also noted that California’s tax dollars alone could have provided coverage for more than half the 47 million Americans currently living without health care or brought in renewable energy for every home in California with money left to spare.
“Every day the war goes on means more of our hard-earned tax dollars are wasted on an endless religious civil war that can’t be won,” said Heidi Mylo, local MoveOn member. “In Los Angeles, that money should be spent where we really need it – on healthcare, schools, renewable energy and solving the rampant homelessness in our community. We’ve had enough. Congress needs to vote in September to end this war and bring our troops home,” concluded Mylo.
After the gathering, activists hand- delivered the reports to congressional districts around Los Angeles and vowed to continue to pressure Congress to vote in September to redeploy troops out of Iraq.
The study, which cited numbers from the National Priorities Project, used IRS and census data to break down war spending and is available at moveon.org.