It seems that Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) would agree, perpetual war is making you poor.
To begin rectifying the situation, he's joined with Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) in co-sponsoring the "War is Making You Poor Act," which would limit defense spending to $548.9 billion: the exact figure alloted in the fiscal year 2011 budget.
The act also seeks to utilize an additional $159.3 billion set aside for "discretionary" operations abroad to relieve the full federal income tax burden on every American's first $35,000 earned per year, or up to $70,000 per year for married couples.
"I believe that the thing we need to do is to take that $159 billion that the President has set aside Ã¢â‚¬â€œ weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not saying he has to stop the war, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not giving a cut-off date for the war Ã¢â‚¬â€œ weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re simply saying you need to fund that out of the base budget of $549 billion," Grayson said of his bill. "And we take 90 percent of that and give it back to the American people."
He's also launched an online petition in support of the "War is Making You Poor Act". At time of this writing it had accrued over 45,000 signatures.
Surprisingly enough, even some conservatives see the legislation as a potential positive.
"Each troop we send to Afghanistan costs the public $1 million per year," National Review's E.D. Kain noted. "ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s $1 million siphoned out of the U.S. economy and shipped overseas to the mountains of Afghanistan and the Iraqi deserts. As Veronique de Rugy pointed out in 2008, for years many of these costs were hidden, not even included in the PentagonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defense budget. This obscures not only the real cost of war, but the costs of all the extraneous programs our tax dollars end up going toward in the name of national defense."
He goes on to call Grayson's bill "a good start" toward slashing America's massively bloated defense budget.
"The costs of the war have been rendered invisible," Grayson said on the floor of the House. "There's no draft. Instead, we take the most vulnerable elements of our population, and give them a choice between unemployment and missile fodder. Government deficits conceal the need to pay in cash for the war.
"We put the cost of both guns and butter on our Chinese credit card. In fact, we don't even put these wars on budget; they are still passed using 'emergency supplemental'. A nine-year 'emergency'.
"Let's show Congress the cost of these wars is too much for us."
The bill, H.R. 5353, is currently before the House Armed Services and Ways and Means committees.
This video is from C-Span, broadcast May 20, 2010.