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Kimberly Amadeo

Remembering 9/11

By September 11, 2013

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9/11 attackToday is the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. More lives were lost than from the attack on Pearl Harbor. Terrorism was met with heroism from the brave passengers who reported the attacks, those who fought the terrorists on United Airlines Flight 93, and the first responders who gave their lives while trying to save others.

Heroism was also shown by the men and women who fought the subsequent War on Terror, and the Navy SEALS who finally found and attacked Osama bin Laden. And that heroism is shown every day by the veterans of those wars -- nearly half of the 1.25 million who served have made health or disability claims. Their physical and emotional wounds make life a daily struggle.

The economic impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks linger as well. The record-setting $16 trillion debt is one result. The direct cost of the War on Terror is $1.5 trillion. However, if you rightly add in ancillary costs, such as veterans benefits, interest payments on the debt incurred, etc, it more than doubles to $3.7 trillion. This is more than the $700 billion bailout and the $787 billion economic stimulus package combined.

Don't forget to add in the opportunity costs from not spending on activities that are better at creating jobs. While $1 billion of military spending creates 8,555 jobs, that same amount:

  • Creates 10,779 jobs as a tax cut,
  • Creates 17,687 jobs as education spending and
  • Creates 19,795 jobs as construction spending.

The true legacy of 9/11 is knowing that the American people will always meet terrorism with heroism. This includes spending enough on defense to keep our country safe and prevent any other attacks.

At the same time, our $16 trillion debt reminds us that our resources are limited. World War II ended the Great Depression by boosting demand and putting America back to work. The War on Terror didn't end the Great Recession for the millions who are still unemployed. It's time to heroically have a bi-partisan discussion about a way to best use our limited resources and balance defense with job creation.

What do you think? Tell us your opinion in How Much Should the U.S. Spend on National Security?

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