M. President,
As we celebrate this holiday season with our families, as we gather with those we love, and give thanks for our tremendous blessings, we remember how incalculable the losses have been to the families of the 3,888 soldiers who were killed in Iraq. Their losses cannot be tallied, not in the number of Christmas nights spent without the one they loved, not in the number of days since their wives, husbands, parents and children left home forever.


We cannot calculate the strain on the 28,661 wounded soldiers and their families, many of whom will be spending this precious time in a military hospital, coping with their blindness, living with only one leg or arm, sleeping through nightmares of the battlefield instead of the beautiful dreams they used to know this time of year.

As we hold them in our hearts, we watch our money slip away from us in Iraq. That is a casualty we can, and must, count.

There is a brutal holiday irony that is no cause for festive spirit here in Washington, D.C.
The irony is this: President Bush and his Republican allies in Congress held hostage some key investments we need to make right here in our country, using so-called "fiscal responsibility" as an excuse, in order to extract a promise of more money for the War in Iraq.

They're asking for more than $150 billion dollars more for Iraq next year, but at one point they threatened to starve the entire government of funding over a difference in the federal budget that amounts to less than one-tenth of what the President wants to spend on the war next year. This holiday season, we wondered if President Bush wanted to be Scrooge to America and Santa Claus to Iraq.
Over the last several months I have spoken many times about what the American presence in Iraq is costing us here at home.

The true costs of the $455 billion we've spent on that war and the $10 billion per month we continue to spend might be never be clearer than they are now, at a time when Congress is debating the budget for almost the entire federal government.



While we're here crunching numbers, American families are feeling the crunch of a few numbers themselves: the interest rate on their mortgage that may be about to jump up beyond what they can afford, the number on the gas pump when they fill their tank, the price of heating oil and natural gas, higher grocery bills, fare hikes or threats of hikes on public transportation, and the skyrocketing costs of providing medical care for themselves and their children.


The President's consistent threats to veto funding for federal government operations forced across-the-board cuts to the most important programs and services that so many Americans are counting on.

{CHART 2} This winter, as snow and ice fall on roads across America, people are waiting for better ways to travel. They are waiting for expanded, affordable public transportation, progress on efficiency and new sources of fuel and power. They are waiting for our nation to fill our energy portfolio with something other than lumps of coal.


The bill considered by Congress considered has before itthis week would inject another $1.7 billion dollars in the development of renewable sources of energy like solar, wind and geothermal.

It's an important step, but it could have been much greater a small one. Republicans have consistently objected to bigger steps. They've said weaning us off fossil fuels is too expensive. Meanwhile, they have insisted that oil companies need more multi-billion-dollar tax cuts. And meanwhile, we spend enough money to pay for that entire renewable energy package in Iraq in just 5 days.

{CHART 3} Cancer patients going through the dark winter of their illness are waiting on life-saving treatments that only intensive scientific research can discover. Congress has a bill before it to authorize funding for that research. President Bush vetoed the funding once and his allies in Congress have whittled it down as much as they could. The cost of the funding increase for that research: $329 million, or less than one day in Iraq.


{CHART 4} This winter, while President Bush asks for billions more for security for the streets of Baghdad, he says we can't afford to bring security to the streets of our hometowns.

The Senate proposed spending $55 million in part to hire police officers specially trained to stop child sexual predators. The President didn't just force that funding to be cut in half, he sliced it into less than a third of what it was. We could have made up the difference and fully funded the program to stop child sexual predators with what it costs to be in Iraq for about two and a half hours.

There are too many provisions in this big funding bill that are absolutely essential-too many to name here.


The victims of the cuts that the President and his Republican allies have called for- the millions of Americans waiting for clean power that won't be produced, the cancer patients who are waiting for research that won't be allowed to happen, the communities trying to stop child sexual predators who are waiting for police officers who won't be hired-these people are also too many to name. In that sense, even beyond more than in terms of the lives lost overseas, the cost of the War in Iraq has been incalculable.


If there's one thing we all must acknowledge right now, it's this: the war in Iraq is not free. No one should be pretending this war is free. The Bush Administration likes to parrot the line that "we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here." But Americans have figured out that what they really mean is, "We're spending all our money over there so we don't have it to spend here."

Above all, this is as a question of values. Do we value our children, do we value our schools, do we value our soldiers and veterans, do we value our health-or will we neglect those priorities?
This bill sets out, for our values, a clear and serious test: we cannot allow the budget to have a heart as cold as the ice on our front steps, we cannot let our financial stability melt away, and we cannot continue to let more of our money burn up in a war that has taken so much from so many for so long.

M. President,

At year's end, we speak of renewal, we turn to our families, we witness a rebirth of hope. This season is about the best in us. This season, decisions we make are going to test how we operate as a government, and test what we stand for as a nation.
There is no better time than now to let the best in American values guide our way: generosity, equal opportunity, and cooperation with one another. We have the power to end unnecessary suffering and waste, and the chance to approach these tasks with the fresh sense of urgency they require.

As we rest and dream in the company of those we love, let us remember that December is the darkest time of the year, but it is also the turning point, when the sun begins to shine more and more every day.
Together we offer our wish, our hope, our prayer, that the dreams that have carried us so far, of peace on Earth, goodwill toward all, may yet still come true.

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