Sunday, September 23, 2007

U.S. Spends $720 Million Daily on Iraq War: Washington Post

According to this Washington Post story the United States' Iraqi war effort is costing Americans a staggering $720,000,000 per day.

I'll repeat that: $720 million a day.

The money spent on one day of the Iraq war could buy homes for almost 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children, or could outfit 1.27 million homes with renewable electricity, according to the American Friends Service Committee, which displayed those statistics on large banners in cities nationwide Thursday and Friday.

The war is costing $720 million a day or $500,000 a minute, according to the group's analysis of the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard public finance lecturer Linda J. Bilmes.

The Post story also contains this stupefying nugget, in answer to those rather compelling mathematics:

But some supporters of the Bush administration's policy in Iraq say that even if the war is costly, that fact is essentially immaterial.

"Either you think the war in Iraq supports America's national security, or not," said Frederick W. Kagan, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

"If you think national security won't be harmed by withdrawing from Iraq, of course you would want to see that money spent elsewhere. I myself think that belief, on a certain level, is absurd, so the question of focusing on how much money we are spending there is irrelevant."



For but one example of the way that view of "relevance" translates into actual budgetary policy, see this CNN story:

Bush vows to veto bipartisan kids' health care bill

A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced a proposal Friday that would add $35 billion over five years to the [Children's Health Insurance Program], adding 4 million people to the 6.6 million already participating. It would be financed by raising the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents to $1 per pack.

But Bush has promised a veto, saying the measure is too costly, unacceptably raises taxes, extends government-covered insurance to children in families who can afford private coverage, and seems like a move toward completely federalized health care (emphasis added).

There are an estimated 9 million kids in America without health insurance coverage.

Based on the Washington Post estimates, the annual medical expenses for every one of them could be paid with just a bit over three weeks of the war's allocated budget.

Not a bad trade-off at all.

But that's not how it goes in Washington: see Team Bush Wants $50B More for ‘08 Military Budget.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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