The disloyal opposition

Loyal opposition [noun]: a minority party, especially in a legislative body, whose opposition to the party in power is constructive, responsible, and bounded by loyalty to fundamental interests and principles. —Merriam Webster

The Republican Party used a pack of lies to drive our nation into a preventable war in which 4,424 U.S. soldiers and nearly 200,000 Iraqi civilians died unnecessarily. As of this week (Aug. 8), it has cost U.S. taxpayers $820,725,434,004. The GOP has yet to apologize to the nation.

Although our participation in the Iraq war has allegedly ended, the cost to us still increases, rolling up the bill like a taxi meter attached to the Pentagon. In an effort to keep some sense of the cost to each citizen, we have reported regularly on how much this disgraceful war has cost Nevadans, Washoe County citizens, Renoites, and residents of U.S. House district 2. Here, courtesy of the National Priorities Project, are some of the figures for how much it has cost residents of the State of Nevada as the war unfolded:

$4,392,846,261 (Dec. 27, 2011)

$6,667,056,499 (June 8, 2015)

$6,685,176,486 (Aug. 8, 2017)

During these years, Republicans have also complained about the cost of the Affordable Care Act. Nevada’s U.S. Sen. Dean Heller says it “has led to higher costs” and Donald Trump complains that “premiums are soaring.”

Why can we afford war but not health care?

Nor are Republicans always such penny-pinchers. When they wanted to drag us into a preventable war in Iraq, they not only ignored the cost but put it on the cuff.

By not raising taxes to pay for the war, Republicans virtually guaranteed it would go on for years. Wars paid for with debt have a habit of doing that. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars taken together with the Wall Street bailouts drove a gargantuan deficit, the deficit that Trump inherited from Obama and Obama inherited from Bush II.

Wars that are paid for as they go along tend to be short. And Republicans in other contexts demand that we pay as we go. Where was conservative fiscal prudence when the GOP was intent on finding weapons of mass destruction? Year after year, we have rolled up debt to fight a pointless war.

The ACA is a piece of legislation, remember, that Republicans legislators refused to help design. They sat in the bleachers, refusing to bring their own vaunted business expertise to bear in crafting the 2009 measure creating the ACA. Now they complain that they don’t like the federal law whose construction they boycotted, even though they are lawmakers. That is the role of the loyal opposition, after all—to work with their adversaries after elections have ended to make government work.

The Republican Party has told us that we can afford to use the instrument of government to cause needless deaths but cannot use it to save lives.