Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Cost of War

From the LA Times:
President Bush plans to ask lawmakers next week to approve another massive spending measure -- totaling nearly $200 billion -- to fund the war through next year, Pentagon officials said.

If Bush's spending request is approved, 2008 will be the most expensive year of the Iraq war...

The Bush administration said earlier this year that it probably would need $147.5 billion for 2008, but Pentagon officials now say that and $47 billion more will be required. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and other officials are to formally present the full request at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Wednesday.

The funding request means that war costs are projected to grow even as the number of deployed combat troops begins a gradual decline starting in December. Spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is to rise from $173 billion this year to about $195 billion in fiscal 2008, which begins Oct. 1.

When costs of CIA operations and embassy expenses are added, the war in Iraq currently costs taxpayers about $12 billion a month, said Winslow T. Wheeler, a former Republican congressional budget aide who is a senior fellow at the Center for Defense Information in Washington.

"Everybody predicts declines, but they haven't occurred, and 2008 will be higher than 2007," Wheeler said. "It all depends on what happens in Iraq, but thus far it has continued to get bloodier and more expensive. Everyone says we are going to turn the corner here, but the corner has not been turned."

In 2004, the two conflicts together cost $94 billion; in 2005, they cost $108 billion; in 2006, $122 billion.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are financed through a single administration request to Congress, and their costs are combined in the legislation.

The new spending request is likely to push the cumulative cost of the war in Iraq alone through 2008 past the $600-billion mark -- more than the Korean War and nearly as much as the Vietnam War, based on estimates by government budget officials.
WWII only cost us $296 billion. The war in Iraq has cost over $450 billion to date and most estimates put it at topping $1 trillion when all is said and done! Think of all the things we could have better spent that money on. We at least could have cut the $2 trillion in Bush tax cuts (which, along with the war, contributed to the $3 trillion increase in our national debt during his administration) in half, but that'd be asking too much from his wealthy, pro-war constituency.

Now, not all of the funds being requested are war-related, and now that we are talking about another $200 billion instead of $100 billion some are hoping the Democratic Congress will slim it down. Fred Kaplan at Slate is practically begging for them to ask the tough questions on Pentagon spending. I have my doubts, but apparently Senator Robert Byrd (who chairs the Appropriations Committee) is going to make an announcement on the subject tomorrow.

Of course, I'd like to see them hold up this money altogether until President Bush agrees to a timetable to bring our troops home. But I guess that's too much too ask.

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