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What We Could Have Done Instead

McClatchy: Price tag for war in Iraq on track to top $500 billion

The bitter fight over the latest Iraq spending bill has all but obscured a sobering fact: The war will soon cost more than $500 billion.

That's about ten times more than the Bush administration anticipated before the war started four years ago, and no one can predict how high the tab will go. The $124 billion spending bill that President Bush plans to veto this week includes about $78 billion for Iraq, with the rest earmarked for the war in Afghanistan, veterans' health care and other government programs.

Congressional Democrats and Bush agree that they cannot let their dispute over a withdrawal timetable block the latest cash installment for Iraq. Once that political fight is resolved, Congress can focus on the president's request for $116 billion more for the war in the fiscal year that starts on Sept. 1.

The combined spending requests would push the total for Iraq to $564 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

What could that kind of money buy?

A college education - tuition, fees, room and board at a public university - for about half of the nation's 17 million high-school-age teenagers.

Pre-school for every 3- and 4-year-old in the country for the next eight years.

A year's stay in an assisted-living facility for about half of the 35 million Americans age 65 or older.

I'll be writing more in the coming days as to where our budget priorities need to be redirected.


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Comments (5)

Paul Hamilton:

Follow the money and you'll see who really wants this war and who's really running the country.

Publicus:

Wait! Wasn't this war going to pay for itself from Iraqi oil revenues?

Heralder:

Iraqi lives are not worth 500 billion? Nor is the prospect of freedom, or the prospect of a democracy, or the prospect of stability?

Spend the money on ourselves you say. I'm all for it. Of course, if any other president took 500 billion of the federal budget and spent on the things you listed it would be a better example.

Perhaps you're on to something. If it doesn't directly and immediately benefit you or me, it's not worth the cost.

Publicus,

Who said that?

Source link: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz: "There's a lot of money to pay for this that doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people...and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years...We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon." [Source: House Committee on Appropriations Hearing on a Supplemental War Regulation, 3/27/03]"

Paul Hamilton:

Heralder: If we had a proper plan to win the peace at the time we invaded, it would not have cost anywhere near half a trillion dollars and we could have accomplished some meaningful objectives. As it is, we had no plan, and we've just poured the money down a rat hole. The Iraqi people are no closer to democracy than they were under Saddam -- just likely swapping a secular dictator for a mullah. And the idea that they are more stable is completely laughable. They can't even get the electricity to work.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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