On ABC’s World News on Sunday, a report by correspondent Jim Avila highlighted the complaints of left-wing mayors who expressed wishes that more defense spending would be redirected at projects in their cities.
The NBC correspondent speculated about what other items could be paid for using the money used by the Pentagon in Afghanistan and Iraq, and concluded the report seeming to suggest that spending on the wars had played a role in causing "damage" to the economy of the U.S. Avila: "It's a growing part of this country's war fatigue - a decade of human cost and damage to a struggling economy."
As he set up the report, anchor David Muir recounted that air-conditioning alone for U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq costs $20 billion a year, before continuing:
No one argues our forces don't need it, but many say it does illustrate money spent in ways many taxpayers never think of. And so, tonight, ABC's Jim Avila on the angry mayors across this country who now say it's time to spend that money on rebuilding here at home.
Avila used soundbites and cited complaints by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Elizabeth, New Jersey, Mayor Chris Bollwage, as the two men complained about wanting to have more money to spend in their cities.
Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Sunday, June 26, World News on ABC:
DAVID MUIR: The debate in Washington tomorrow will center on this nation’s ballooning debt and what to do about it. The President and Democrats are at an impasse with Republicans. They have agreed on cuts, but not enough. So now what? Leaders of both parties will be at the White House. Tonight, though, a number that caught our eye about money spent. This one, part of the cost of war. The U.S. spends more than $20 billion a year for air-conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan. No one argues our forces don’t need it, but many say it does illustrate money spent in ways many taxpayers never think of. And so, tonight, ABC's Jim Avila on the angry mayors across this country who now say it’s time to spend that money on rebuilding here at home.
JIM AVILA: The Elizabeth, New Jersey, version of the "Bridge to Nowhere" - a monument, says Mayor Chris Bollwage, to the billions of dollars spent over there this year and not spent here. You've seen a direct effect on your city?
CHRIS BOLLWAGE, MAYOR OF ELIZABETH, NEW JERSEY: We can’t get money for this bridge. It’s impossible. I don’t know what other cities in the world would want a bridge standing straight up like that and not having people be able to get to their jobs.
AVILA: But U.S. taxpayers are paying to build roads and bridges and create jobs as part of the effort to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan - real money. In fact, $120 billion Americans will spend in Afghanistan this year alone would fund the construction of 90 Golden Gate bridges, which led the U.S. Mayors Conference to pass a rare anti-war resolution last week, demanding that all that money be redirected home.
ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: We can’t continue to build bridges, roads and hospitals in Kandahar and Baghdad and not in Kansas City and Baltimore. The fact is, we got to put people back to work here at home.
AVILA: In Mayor Villaraigosa’s state of California alone, their share of the war budget could cover the state deficit, or it’s enough to hire 200,000 new teachers or 203,000 new firefighters. In Mayor Bollwage’s state of New Jersey, their share of the yearly war cost could fund the full four-year tuition at Rutgers University for the entire freshman class over the next 22 years, or they could hire 59,000 new police and sheriff's deputies. And, of course, it’s enough to rebuild the mayor’s bridge to nowhere.
BOLLWAGE: I mean, we got to figure out better ways to rebuild our infrastructure. We’ve done it around the world. Let’s do it here.
AVILA: It’s a growing part of this country’s war fatigue - a decade of human cost and damage to a struggling economy. Jim Avila, ABC News, Elizabeth, New Jersey.