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More importantly, the Republican rules package, the rules that the majority party sets for the House at the beginning of each Congress, specifically took the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan off-budget. Stopping our enormous open-ended investment in Afghanistan would reduce our long-term debt by more than $1 trillion and do more to cut the deficit than any of the Republican Party’s supposed deficit reduction efforts, such as the Republican bill to end public financing of campaigns.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), my colleague on the Budget Committee who introduced that bill — H.R. 359 — estimated that it would save $617 million over 10 years. That’s roughly the same savings we would realize in two days from ending our involvement in an endless war in Afghanistan. Every day we stay in Afghanistan, we add more than $325 million to our debt.
In the coming months, we will have a number of serious debates over the budget, the deficit, the debt limit and our national priorities. We owe it to the American people to place all options on the table and to respond to what the voters want, rather than twist their wishes to match our own partisan agenda. As a member of both the Budget and Appropriations committees, I look forward to working with my colleagues to put our fiscal house in order and point our economy in the right direction for the 21st century.
Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) serves on the Appropriations and Budget committees.