Bush wars to cost 40 times higher than original estimates; $8,000 per man, woman child in US
New estimates show Iraq, Afghanistan will cost US $2.4 trillion; White House refuses to provide estimate
The United States is spending about $8,000 per man, woman and child in the country to pursue wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to new estimates that show the wars will cost about $2.4 trillion over the next decade.
More than one-fourth of the money spent in Iraq and Afghanistan -- $705 billion -- will go to paying interest on the wars' costs, which are being funded with borrowed dollars, according to an estimate to be released Wednesday by the Congressional Budget Office. Iraq accounts for about 80 percent of the costs with a $1.9 trillion tab, including $564 million in interest, a House budget committee staff director told USA Today, which reported the numbers Wednesday morning.
"The number is so big, it boggles the mind," Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) told the newspaper.
The CBO previously estimated the war's costs at $1.6 trillion, which did not include interest payments or Bush's latest request for an extra $46 billion in war funding.
Since President Bush decided to invade Iraq in early 2003, the war's costs have skyrocketed as government number-crunchers continue to revise their estimates.
The latest estimate is more than 40 times higher than the Bush administration's initial estimates that the war would cost between $50 billion and $60 billion; meanwhile a proclivity for cutting taxes has marked Bush's tenure almost as much as his dedication to mounting international invasions.
The latest CBO report puts government estimates in line with those from outside economists, who have long warned against the war-on-the-cheap pipe dreams of Bush and his allies. In 2002, Yale economist William Nordhaus estimated the war would cost $1.6 trillion by 2012, and last year Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said the costs could exceed $2 trillion.
Responding to the latest estimate, White House spokesman Sean Kevelighan refused to provide USA Today with an administration estimate of the war's cost, but he couldn't resist accusing Democrats of "playing politics" and "trying to artificially inflate" funding levels.
The CBO assumed that 75,000 troops will remain in Iraq a decade from now in calculating the estimate. Although it is "very speculative," that estimate is far from unreasonable, Loren Thompson, a nonpartisan defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, told the newspaper.
Already, the wars' $604 billion price tag is higher than than the costs of conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, when adjusted for inflation, according to a report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.