What Does the Afghanistan War Have to Do with Health Reform?


Take a look at President Obama’s approval disapproval ratings on various issues in this late May 2009 Gallup poll.

(The same results persist in more recent polling, but I use this poll because of its use of two separate relevant indicators.)

Note that the two questions on federal budget–the handling of the deficit and controlling government spending–are the only two areas on which the President received negative ratings. The poll may ask people what they think about Obama, but it’s actually about the mood of the American people. Anxiety about deficits is rising. Politically, that means that the President’s opponents have a line of attack with traction: "out-of-control government spending." The politics around this issue mean the President will be somewhat constrained in his policies by anxieties about spending, and that means any spending commitment could crowd out other priorities.

Politics aside though, the simple fact is that we could be insuring millions of Americans with the same dollars we’re spending on war in Afghanistan.

So, what are the health care opportunity costs of continued military action in Afghanistan? Here’s a quick video overview, using clips from Rethink Afghanistan, Part Three: Cost of War:

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