Long-time peace advocate, Rep. John Lewis scored a victory today by gaining the inclusion of his Cost of War Act H.R. 3088 as an amendment passed en bloc as part of the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The Congressman made this statement on the House floor in support of his amendment today:
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the en bloc amendment, which includes my amendment. It requires that the Secretary of Defense, the IRS, and Commerce calculate the total cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to each American taxpayer. My amendment is about truth and transparency. Americans need to know how their taxes are being spent, so we can make informed decisions about our budget. Even if you do not oppose war, don't you want to know what it costs you, your children, your grandchildren, and your great-grandchildren? For too long, there has been a big, fat blank check for war. We need to be honest with ourselves. We need to be honest with each other. Mr. Chairman, I hope all of my colleagues will support the Lewis amendment and this en bloc package."
The Cost of War Act is a measure which creates openness and transparency around spending for war, which is often not clearly defined in the federal budget. This bill was named bill of the day by PopVox and featured in an EPI blog. This legislation simply requires the Department of Defense to work with the Internal Revenue Service to calculate and post on their websites the cost of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya paid by every American taxpayer.
A few weeks ago, Rep. Lewis sponsored a staff briefing in conjunction with the Institute for Economics& Peace to discuss their recent report: Economics Consequences of War on the U.S. Economy. During the briefing, we learned that the U.S. is still paying out benefits for the Civil War, and that the institute estimates around 8 percent of the US GDP is spent on war-related costs.
During debate, the Congressman was given only one-minute to discuss his bill. The longer more expository version of the statement was included in the Congressional Record and is also attached to this document along with the text of the bill.