December 1, 2009

Ed Schultz talks to Rep. Alan Grayson about the proposed war surtax to pay for Afghanistan. Grayson feels we've paid too much already for both Iraq and Afghanistan and that it's time to bring the troops home.

Schultz: $234 billion, that’s the price tag; that’s that eight years of war in Afghanistan has already cost this country. Now we’re sending 30,000 more troops—a nearly fifty percent increase. We have no idea how long they’re going to be there or how long it’s going to take to “finish the job”. The idea of a war surtax is gaining momentum in both houses of the Congress and with both parties for that matter. Joining me now Florida Congressman Alan Grayson. Congressman good to have you with us tonight. Should we make sure that we can pay for this next military increase in Afghanistan and how would you propose doing it?

Grayson: I think we’ve paid enough. We’ve paid $3 trillion already for the war in Iraq—that’s $10,000 for every man, woman and child in this country. For my family, my wife, myself, my five children that’s $70,000. Enough is enough—we’ve paid enough for Iraq in both money and blood. We’ve paid enough for Afghanistan. Now it’s time to come home.

Schultz: So, we’re going to be there and the President’s going to make the announcement. We’re going there, so what do we do for the finances of this? Do we increase taxes and where do we go to do that?

Grayson: No, people are suffering too much already, but what we need to do is change the President’s mind and if necessary to vote to end the war. I think we need to do that. This is a war that really ended a long time ago and not enough people have noticed that. After the two months following Sept. 11th we’d overthrown the Taliban government and after three months we had expelled al Qaeda from Afghanistan into Pakistan. And Gen. Petraeus said back in May that al Qaeda no longer even operates in Afghanistan. So why are we there?

We are not safer because we sent 100,000 of our young men and women across the ocean to a place 8000 miles away. You know the Constitution doesn’t even contemplate a standing Army, much less an Army standing in Kabul.

Schultz: Congressman, do you think President Obama is leaving his base?

Grayson: Yes. I think that he needs to speak out as the moral person that he is in favor of peace. We have people now who are in first grade and second grade who have never known an America their entire lives that was an America at peace and I think it’s time we thought about that; thought about what we’re like as human beings and as a country. We need to pursue peace.

Schultz: What do you think the progressive community should do if anything at this point?

Grayson: What we always do—organize, organize and organize. Tell the President, tell our elected representatives and hope that we can build bridges among enough Congressmen so that we can tell the President honestly this war should be over. And I’ve been following the polls and I’ve seen that in the case of Afghanistan the polls are shifting. In the past year more than 20% of Americans have changed their mind about the war in Afghanistan and they conclude we shouldn’t be there. And that’s what we need to do. We need to change people’s minds.

Schultz: If the vote comes up for a surtax, would you support it?

Grayson: No.

Schultz: You would not support it to be fiscally responsible, because that would be supporting the war then?

Grayson: The fiscally responsible thing is to end the wars that have cost us $3 trillion and come close to wrecking the economy. We don’t improve the economy by increasing the taxes to pay for this war. We improve the economy by bringing those soldiers home. That’s how we improve the economy.

Schultz: Do you think Barack Obama would have been elected President of the United States if he had gone around campaigning saying we’re going to put another 30,000 troops in Afghanistan?

Grayson: I haven’t lost hope. I think that if enough people change their minds about the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, in the end President Obama will be one of them.

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