MoveOn.org is trying to give Northern Virginians a bad case of sticker shock.
The local chapter of the liberal political action group issued a report last week that details how many Northern Virginia tax dollars have gone towards funding the Iraq War.
According to the report, taxpayers in Virginia’s 8th congressional district, which includes all of Arlington and Alexandria and parts of Fairfax County, have had $1.45 billion of their federal taxes go towards the war since its inception in 2003.
"MoveOn is calling for a start to the end of the war," Robert Platt, a local MoveOn organizer, said.
The report, which was part of a nationwide effort by MoveOn.org to detail the financial cost of the war, describes the conflict as an "unwinnable civil war" and lists several areas, such as health care, education and public safety, where the 8th district’s federal money could have been spent if not on the Iraq War.
"With the costs of the war expected to ultimately double, taxpayers in Virginia cannot afford another $1.45 billion to keep our troops stuck in… Iraq," the report said, "Especially when our communities are paying such a heavy price."
WHILE THE 8TH congressional district, represented by U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D), has one of Virginia’s highest tax burdens for the war, its neighbors to the west are paying the most for the Iraq conflict out of any district in the commonwealth, according to the MoveOn report.
The report says that taxpayers from U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf’s (R) 10th district have contributed $1.63 billion to the cost of the war while the 11th district, represented by U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R), has paid $1.83 billion, the highest in Virginia.
Northern Virginia’s congressional delegation is mixed on their views of the Iraq War. Moran, along with Sen. Jim Webb (D), have been vociferously opposed to the conflict while Wolf, Davis and Sen. John Warner (R) originally supported it.
"[Moran] has taken a real lead role to cut off funding and stop sending troops there," Frank Shafroth, Moran’s chief of staff, said. "This [report] is helpful."
While Shafroth agreed with the basic thrust of the report, he took issue with its claims that, were the war to be halted, money would be available for other projects. He said that this is a fallacy because the war has been financed almost entirely on debt.
"If you stop the war there will be no money for anyone else," Shafroth said. "The money that would be going to Iraq won’t be there."
Webb has also been an opponent of the war since entering Congress at the beginning of this year. His spokesperson, Jessica Smith, said that Webb has been against the Iraq War since the beginning and is looking for ways to lessen its burden on Virginia taxpayers.
She said that Webb has introduced legislation to establish a Commission on Wartime Contracting that could "potentially save American taxpayers billions of dollars."
A staffer in Wolf’s office said Wolfs was out of town and could not be reached for comment. Davis and Warner did not return requests for comment on this story.
THE ISSUING of the MoveOn report was accompanied by a MoveOn-organized rally in Arlington. Roughly a dozen people showed up to show their distaste for the rising cost of the Iraq War.
"It’s very destructive, this war," said Arlingtonian Tom Pallow. Pallow is a former mortgage broker and financial consultant and he said he was concerned with the Iraq War’s economic consequences for the U.S. in global markets.
"The rest of the world is losing confidence in us… We’re spending way too much money policing the world," he said. "The dollar is sinking."
Arlington resident Susie Humphreys attended the rally because she said, "I want the war to end as soon as possible."
She also said that she felt that MoveOn’s estimates of the cost of the war were too low because they did not take into account the health care costs of injured veterans. Humphreys also said that she is just as concerned about the cost the war is inflicting on Iraqis, in money and in lives.
Platt was pleased with the turnout at the event and the convictions of those who showed up. "This is indicative of the high level of activism in Arlington," he said.