President Bush is urging Congress to pass several pieces of legislation when the lawmakers return from a long holiday recess next week. Bush urged lawmakers to renew anti-terrorism legislation that allows U.S. intelligence agencies to monitor domestic phone calls without court permission, as long as one end of the conversation is reasonably believed to be outside the United States. The Bush administration also wants congress to protect telecommunications companies from lawsuits for having turned over telephone records of Americans.
He just loves destroying our privacy!
The president's top priority is to win congressional approval of his $196 billion request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democrats have offered to pass $50 billion of the president's requested $196 billion, but on condition that most U.S. troops leave Iraq by next December. The president says he will veto any legislation linked to those terms.
Will he ever let our troops leave Iraq?
"Instead of giving the president $200 billion to continue the war, it gives him $50 billion to shut the war down," said Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
I don't think Bush has any intention of shutting the war down. How many more in the military have to die before he lets them come home?
A Democratic report earlier this month estimated that the wars' total costs could be as much as $3.5 trillion!
Raw Story came up with some interesting ways the money could be spent:
- The money would fund 64 million grads -- some 256 million years of schooling.
- The Senate asked for $230 million to buy three V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft that critics said would never be combat effective. That money could have provided health care coverage to the nearly 230,000 California children who do not have it
- Treating malaria. One hour's worth of expenditures on Iraq could have treated 817,000 people in Africa. The $196.4 billion spent on the war altogether could have provided doses for all 600 million people stricken globally every year, for 44 years.
- Experts from the U.S. Surgeon General to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger say obesity is epidemic in the United States, almost as perilous to American health as tobacco. A six-week trip to a fat farm in the Catskills or Berkshires costs about $5,200. The estimated $51.8 billion spent on Iraq in 2006 could have sent the 9 million American kids aged 6 to 19 years old who need to shape up to camp for the entire summer – with car fare thrown in.
- With about 22 percent of American kids under the age of 6 living in homes below the poverty level, picking up the tab would have cost the federal government $39 billion – less than the U.S. spends in 10 months in Iraq.
- According to PayScale, Arabic translators earn an average of $80,000 per year. The total money allocated for Iraq so far could have paid 20,000 translators for 12 years.
- The Centers for Disease Control estimates 40,000 people in the U.S. are infected with HIV every year, and AIDS activists have said federal spending to assist indigent HIV patients with meals, assisted living and legal aid under the Ryan White Care Act needs to be doubled. The allocation has been frozen at $2.1 billion for the past few years, while the number of cities covered has increased, and as a result, programs in areas such as New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco have been faced with budget cutbacks. The $2.1 billion that New Jersey alone would have to contribute to just the administration's request in October for an additional $45.9 billion would be enough to double the amount spent on the half million people eligible for the Ryan White programs.