On Monday, June 30th, President Bush signed the last major war funding bill of his presidency. The Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008, totals $162 billion and will fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars through the beginning of 2009. The supplemental includes $21.1 billion for a host of domestic programs, including $2.7 billion for Midwest flood relief, a 12 week extension of unemployment benefits, $5.8 billion to rebuild the levees destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and a new G.I. Bill that will provide educational benefits for veterans who signed up for service after September 11th, 2001.
These important forward thinking domestic initiatives are cause to celebrate. And, in a twisted sort of way, the signing of Bush’s last war funding bill is also cause for celebration; even though it cost the American taxpayers $600 billion dollars to reach this milestone (these costs were assessed when the Unitarian Universalist Association issued its Moral Balance Sheet over a year ago and again when the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee looked at the costs of the war during this year’s Justice Sunday).
Of all the egregious atrocities this administration has committed in the name of the American people, the Iraq war stands out as the most shameful and immoral. As we are forced to swallow a final helping of our children’s yet-earned money, let us hope – and through our work ensure – that the next time our Congress takes up the business of funding this war it will be to end the occupation. With Bush’s war chest running out, let us envision a responsible global engagement that honors both our democratic core principles and the international community of nations. May that vision soon come to life.