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Bringing Home 150 Troops from Afghanistan Would Fix Wisconsin’s Budget “Crisis”
Posted by robertgreenwald on February 19th, 2011

Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker is using phony budget projections to manufacture a staged “fiscal emergency” in his state so that he can whack programs and political opponents, but even his fake “emergency” pales in comparison to the cost of the Afghanistan War to his state. In fact, the U.S. would only have to bring home 151 troops from Afghanistan to save more money than Walker’s ridiculous union-busting plan. Better yet, ending the Afghanistan War altogether would save taxpayers in Wisconsin $1.7 billion this year alone, more than ten times the amount “saved” in Walker’s attack on state employee rights.

One might ask, “Isn’t Walker’s fake budget crisis a state budget issue? How would ending the Afghanistan War pay for that?” We get this question a lot when we talk about the cost of war to a state’s taxpayer. Keep in mind that state budgets are tangled with federal spending. That’s especially true over the past couple of years, as state budgets have relied on federal Recovery Act funds to balance their books during the recession. Spending decisions at the federal level are therefore doubly important, as they not only affect the national budget, but also what funds are available to help preserve state-level public structures.

That brings us to Walker’s slash-and-burn approach to the state budget. 

“Under Walker’s plan, most public workers – excluding police, firefighters and state troopers – would have to pay half of their pension costs and at least 12 percent of their health-care costs. They would lose bargaining rights for anything other than pay. Walker, who took office last month, says the emergency measure would save $300 million over the next two years to help close a $3.6 billion budget gap.”

So on average, Walker’s slash-and-burn attack on the unions in his state would save $150 million per year for two years. But if Wisconsin is truly in a state of fiscal emergency, as Walker claims, why is he not demanding the president withdraw troops from Afghanistan and make the savings available as fiscal aid to states? Every troop deployed in Afghanistan costs the U.S. $1 million per year, so simply bringing home 151 troops would save more money than his plan. And, with fiscal 2011 Afghanistan War spending alone to top $1.7 billion for Wisconsin taxpayers, an end to the war would free up more than ten times his plan’s cash, which the president could use for state fiscal aid.

Of course, the end of the Afghanistan War would mean that people with whom Walker is cozy would lose some important revenue streams. Remember Wackenhut, the war contractors that disgraced us by holding drunken, nude firelight romps in Afghanistan on the State Department’s dime? Walker got them a sweet privatized state security contract in a prior fit of “cost-savings” that failed to add up. But who needs to rein in death, destruction and obscenity when you can take a whack at the unions, right? Walker’s not actually interested in fixing a supposed emergency. He’s interested in paying off allies and zinging enemies, and you can tell that by his silence on war spending that’s bleeding his state taxpayers dry.

At any rate, state politicians in Wisconsin and beyond are going to have to face a moment of truth when federal stimulus aid runs out at the end of this year. Their citizens hate the Afghanistan War, and they won’t go along with draconian cuts to vital public structures or attacks on collective bargaining. They can either wise up and join the chorus of people calling for an end to the war, or be ready to face tens of thousands of fed-up protesters and angry voters. Your move, folks.

If you’re fed up wit this war that’s not making us safer and that’s not worth the cost, join Rethink Afghanistan on Facebook and Twitter.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rethink Afghanistan, Josh *UJ* Mull , Henk Sijgers, jan angevine, Derrick Crowe and others. Derrick Crowe said: Bringing Home 150 Troops from Afghanistan Would Fix Wisconsin's Budget "Crisis" – (via @AfghanistanDocu) [...]

  2. KCisKing says:

    This article is ridiculous, a person's head spins just trying to follow the spaghetti logic.

    Forget whether there is state deficits or not, does anyone think it is unreasonable for a person to pay a whole whopping 12% of their health care insurance???

  3. Lc347 says:

    You are missing a key point. The legal right of workers to bargain collectively through their legal representative, the union, means that the governor need only return to the bargaining table and negotiate change. Collective bargaining provides “some” voice at work for workers, but do not kid yourself–the employer, whether private or public–always..repeat–always has more power than the union, and Mr. Governor there will have his way at the table. He need only follow the process. If you, or anyone out there, needs some education on how collective bargaining actually works, and how American labor laws foster an unequal playing field that favors the employer, am happy to provide you with more of that education. Mr. Greenwald is well aware, and so it would be useful for him to write about that angle, his megaphone being bigger than mine.

  4. scenna says:

    With the current unemployment bringing home the troops also means bringing homemore persons that do not have another job waiting..

  5. Tim says:

    Pulling out of Afgan would solve WI budget for now, But what happens when the next tower is attacked. Trying to mix foreign affairs with domistic issues is Apples and Oranges.

  6. Lc347 says:

    Oh, is Al Queda in Afghanistan? Have we figured out what victory is there? and are we going to continue to put it all on the credit card held by the chinese?

  7. [...] By Robert Greenwald  Feb.19, 2011  Rethink Afghanistan War Blog [...]

  8. Qfilter says:

    Lc347, I beg to differ with you.
    Without unions, the employer is free to shop around for the best deal, to hire the best workers at the best prices.
    Labor laws put the employer in a straight jacket. Either buy from me or go out of business.
    In the public sector things are even worse because going out of business isn't an option.

  9. Tezcatlipoca17 says:

    you are making a huge assumption saying that the occupation, because that is what it actually is, of Afghanistan is what is preventing another tower from being attacked. there is absolutely not way to prove that, and i would go further and say that the occupation of Afghanistan is increasing that probability. what does fighting in the mountains of Afghanistan doing to stop some fanatics in Saudi Arabia again?

  10. Lc347 says:

    No union holds any company hostage. Companys lock out workers every day in America. No state or federal worker holds any state or federal entity hostage. Federal workers can't even bargain over wages.

    At such time as the actions of republican governors make unions totally obsolete, the real power of the marketplace will indeed govern. Wage rates will be arbitrary, and working conditions will resemble the safety levels of the typical non-union mine. With no countervailing force, the employer (public or private) seeks not only the lowest wage rates but the cheapest avenue to production, safety and health be damned (and not only of workers, but consumers). Take a look at the track record, for example, of mines that have a unionized workforce versus those without it (Massey is a good starting point). Again, no union rights in this country provide even a level playing field with the employer, public or private. The employer has the ability to crush the union at the bargaining table. There's no straight jacket scenario. By the way, shopping around for the best deal…this takes us right to wage rates at the lowest possible level, reduces all workers' ability to earn a living wage (union or not), and expands the already massive income inequality between the top of the company and the workers who produce the labor upon which the top of the company profits. If we want to drive down our own earning potential, yes, by all means, let's crush the worker's voice at work.

  11. Mic Jor says:

    I love wha you are doing

  12. [...] seems that the argument that if we only send back 150 troops from Afghanistan then the entire problem in Wisconsin. Also you think that those that get sent back will not need [...]

  13. Give Peace A Chance says:

    It only took US citizens 8 years to start shutting down the Main Streets of this country to bring the Vietnam War to a halt.
    How long will we wait this time ?

  14. bjustice says:

    A straight jacket or an opportunity? Let's say you want to build a skyscraper and you need 1,000 highly trained ironworkers. Moreover, they each need to be good: Just one botched weld and the whole enterprise collapses (literally). You want to hire 1,000 ironworkers based on resumes and references? No, you want to go to an organization that has a standard scale for ironworkers and whose reputation depends on delivering exactly as promised. That's an opportunity for business. They save time and money not having to manage an complete HR department and they mitigate enough risk to enable the whole enterprise to move forward with confidence: Investors are willing to jump in knowing that the job will be done right, and the building can be leased and insured with confidence knowing that everything is to spec. That's American. That's organized labor.

  15. Bringing Home 150 Troops from Afghanistan Would Fix Wisconsin's ……

    [...]But if Wisconsin is truly in a state of fiscal emergency, as Walker claims, why is he not demanding the president withdraw troops from Afghanistan and make the savings available as fiscal aid to states? … No, you want to go to an organization th…

  16. NorthernStar says:

    The bill is not about the state deficit; it is about union busting.

  17. dylan65 says:

    “Shopping around for labor”, after busting the unions and having “sensible environmental laws”, is corporate speak for more profit next quarter. Moving across the globe for dirt cheap labor and lax or non existent environmental laws is just good business for them. They are not going to be happy until the conditions are the same in this country.
    Seeing the firemen join the crowds in the Wisconsin state house is a hopeful sign. Let labor, environmentalists and anti war forces come together and speak with one voice. Bring Our War Dollars Home. Stop the war profiteering.

  18. [...] bring in those campaign contributions Posted on March 16, 2011 by Moe| Leave a comment Here’s a concise expression of our misplaced governmental priorities. We need to ask, as Orhan did in a [...]

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