The Pennies DO Add Up

Trey Smith

According to an article in today's Christian Science Monitor, "More costly than 'the war to end all wars", the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq is proving ever more expensive.  In fact, in constant dollars, our current military escapade now ranks as the 3rd most expensive war in U.S. history.

Columnist David R. Francis writes,

This conflict has already cost each American at least $850 in military and reconstruction costs since October 2001.

If the war lasts another five years, it will cost nearly $1.4 trillion, calculates Linda Bilmes, who teaches budgeting at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. That's nearly $4,745 per capita. Her estimate is thorough. She includes not only the military cost but also such things as veterans' benefits and additional interest on the federal debt.

To put these numbers in perspective, I grabbed my calculator and did some calculations based on population figures for Oregon.  The amount of federal tax dollars streaming OUT of Oregon to fund the so-called war effort is staggering.  While it is understood that not all of these monies would find their way back to Oregon, even a small fraction would greatly enhance the state budget as well as many city budgets.  More money for education, state police, health care, environmental protection, infrastructure maintenance and improvement, etc.

At $850 per person, that's $3 billion from Oregon's 3.55 million residents over the 4-year period.  That averages out to $754 million per year.  If we expand our calculation to include the 9-year figure of $4725 per person, Oregonians are, at a minimum, spending $16.7 billion!

For Portland's 550,500 inhabitants, the $850 per person figure begets a price tag of $467.9 million and the $4725 per person estimate works out to $2.6 billion.

Any way you slice it, that's a helluva  chunk of change.  And nary a penny of that is returned to our state to benefit the people who live or visit here.   Talk about the proverbial flushing sound!

  • JS (unverified)

    Via TAPPED, this quote from Sen. Wyden...

    The administration, Wolf, tries to portray this as just one of two approaches. You can either stay the course with them, or in effect cut and run.

    I think there are other alternatives that ought to be pursued. For example, one that I'll be exploring in our intelligence committee is we've set deadlines for the Iraqi's on a constitution. We set deadlines with respect to elections. I think we ought to be asking about setting a deadline with respect to training their security forces. That is a prerequisite to being able to bring our troops home. I think -- I want to be constructive. I think that's the kind of issue we ought to be looking at ...

    It's one thing to talk about an immediate troop withdrawal. I've said deadlines can be useful. We set them for the constitution. We set them for the elections. Why not say in an area where we don't seem to be making a lot of progress in terms of training the Iraqis for their own security, let's set a deadline there. You've got to get them trained to get to the question Russ Feingold wants to explore.

    I think there are constructive alternatives in between what the administration is saying, just stay the course, continue to accept their assessment of what's going on, and in effect what they try to say is a cut and run strategy. I've suggested an alternative.

    Is our Democratic Senator going to take a leadership role in ending this boondoggle in Iraq?!

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