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Thursday, April 10, 2008

$12 Billion a Month

posted by on April 10 at 11:06 AM

Even though I’m with Annie on how blockheaded the “Troops Out NOW” rhetoric is … and no, I’m not Dan, I was against the war in March 2003

and even though I’m too old now, even to dig pinball …

I still get high off a good antiwar poster:


War costs, $145 billion in the 2008 budget, make up 5% of federal spending. Over five years, the war in Iraq has cost over $500 billion.

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What the hell!!!? You're never too old for pinball.

Posted by muckfetro | April 10, 2008 11:07 AM

That's a pretty asshole thing to do, Feit. You know, separating yourself from Dan's old opinions out of the blue. Why not link to Frizzelle's piece, too?! Cuz you're sooooo above your (soon to be ex) coworkers. Go you!

Posted by Mr. Poe | April 10, 2008 11:15 AM

If this war is costing so much money, then where was the money going in peacetime? I don't see any out of the ordinary backlog in road maintenance. Or national park upkeep. Or subsidies to fluid milk processors. What exactly have we lost? Are we just dipping into savings here?

Posted by El Seven | April 10, 2008 11:15 AM

@ 3 If by savings you mean the bank accounts of future tax payers, then yes.

Posted by Jesse | April 10, 2008 11:21 AM

No, @3, we're just printing more of it. Which is one of the reasons why the economy's in the crapper.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 10, 2008 11:24 AM

The 500 billion is just operational costs. By the time you factor such things as veterans health care, the costs of re-equiping and repairing the army, not to mention the interest on all this borrowed money, the cost is in the trillions.

Posted by J.R. Labrador | April 10, 2008 11:29 AM

Wow, 48 days worth of money and we could have built the entirety of Prop 1.

In the course of the Iraq war, 40 US regions could have had the equivalent of Prop 1 built.

In a war fought to keep the cost of oil down, we could have invested that in mass transit, clean energy solutions, rebuilt infrastructure and been just fine.

When are we just gonna call this quits?

Posted by Cale | April 10, 2008 11:39 AM

there was an article (CNN?) recently about how McCain is the toughest spending hawk of the 3 candidates. They arrived at this conclusion by a combination of examining his voting record and utterly ignoring the $3 Trillion War that he fully funds and supports.

Posted by brett | April 10, 2008 11:44 AM

Tim McVeigh was an Iraqi vet. Brace yourselves, motherfuckers.

Posted by DOUG. | April 10, 2008 11:48 AM

Next to those numbers, the $400billion over 40 years that it would take to get most of our electricity from solar doesn't sound so bad, does it?

For the cost of this war we could have completely revamped our nation's energy sector and had change left over.

Posted by NaFun | April 10, 2008 12:01 PM

It's more like $3 Trillion.

And we gain NOTHING by staying. NADA. ZILCH. RIEN.

Sooner we leave, sooner they start fixing their problems.

(caveat - we should pay to rebuild the power stations and bridges we blew up, using a third party for construction, like say Iceland, since we're invading them next after Iran)

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 10, 2008 12:02 PM

The defense budget on the whole is about 50% of our spending. This makes up also about 50% of global military spending. This includes salaries and stuff like shiny new missiles and airplanes and warships.

$145 billion is official 2008 spending for the "Global War on Terrorism", whatever the hell that means. This includes spending for the Iraq war (and notice it is not part of the official Defense budget, it's a totally seperate line item). This is just what is "on the radar" though. In reality the Iraq war is mostly funded by "emergency" supplemental spending bills (some emergency, huh?). It's a nice trick to keep the true cost of the war hidden out of the way of the official budget. It seems to have worked if you're citing $145 as the cost of the Iraq war in 2008, as this doesn't include the inevitable emergency supplementals.

The main problem with these emergency spending bills is that an incredible amount of pork gets tacked on, and since no one wants to vote against letting our soldiers have bullets, the pork gets pushed through as well as money for wasteful/corrupt military contractors, none of which is subject to the scrutiny of the official budget.

After 2002 Republicans conveniently allowed the few budget rules meant to constrain their behavior to expire. Hence supplemental appropriations designated as emergency spending no longer count against the annual budget limits set by Congress and do not trigger automatic cuts if they push outlays above the caps. In fiscal year 2005, supplemental appropriations represented 16.7 percent of new discretionary spending and, adjusted for inflation, reached an all time high of $143 billion—up from $7 billion in fiscal year 1998, when supplementals accounted for 0.9 percent of new discretionary spending. And this year’s $94.5 billion supplemental bill is the largest one ever.

#3, savings? That's rich. We borrow a lot of money from the Chinese and others. What's being lost is confidence in the U.S. dollar as well as the ability to borrow freely in the future. I suppose they might be inflating the dollar as well by printing new money, but I think the main source is borrowing from other countries dollar reserves.

This is in stark contrast to most previous wars that were funded either by raising taxes or by getting citizens to buy bonds. If Americans were subjected to the true cost of this war and were forced to understand the actual sacrifice taking place, instead of hiding the cost in money borrowed and forgotten about in emergency spending bills, I doubt this would have gone on this long, and public confidence in the war would be even lower than it is now.

Posted by w7ngman | April 10, 2008 12:13 PM

I think that quoting figures like $500 billion (or even $3 trillion) really fail to deliver the message. People can't conceptualize what it means. As many have pointed out, we haven't paid for anything; we're borrowing it. If we were to pay up today, the average family of four would have to pay $16,500. Just to cover what we've spent so far. I guarantee that if you ask any war supporter if they feel this war was worth $16,500 to them, they would say no.

Of course, this is just a fraction of what it's going to cost. Depending on how (if) we get out and when, I've seen estimates predicting that the war may end up costing the average family of four over $50,000. Again, saying $3 trillion just causes people to zone out. Tell them what it means to their family specifically and they'll start to pay attention.

Posted by sleestak | April 10, 2008 12:38 PM

@12: The amounts you're talking about don't even include the amounts already included in other budgets like the CIA, Department of State (which now has the largest embassy in the world in Baghdad) etc. etc. AND on top of that, we don't even know the amounts that are kept "secret" by statute because of things like black ops and so on.

Billions, no. Trillions, yes.

When we got into this thing it was supposed to pay for itself through Iraqi oil (heard it from Rummy's lips myself). Just the amount per person spent in Iraq is nearly $5000 per Iraqi citizen, per year. That's on top of what their GDP per person of $3600 (using CIA figures) was in 2007. At $8600/per person, that's ranks Iraq about 80th out of 194 countries. Including the US territory of American Samoa (by a lot).

We could have schools and roads built from silver and gold for those sums IMO. George Bush not only screwed us but future generations to come.

Posted by Dave Coffman | April 10, 2008 12:42 PM

true word: Democrats in copngress too scairdy cat to say "we will cut off funding and we will redirect the $12 b a month to (a) health care and (B) infrastructure, everybody sign up for free health care now, everybody get your local leaders to send in your prop. 1's now and get in line, first come first served."

This includes O and C.

Posted by unPC | April 10, 2008 1:17 PM


In case you haven't notice, our infrastructure is in the crapper. That's the fault of decades of underfunding, including under the Democrats' and Bill Clinton's watch, but we need to play major catch-up and the war is getting in the way of that.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 10, 2008 1:34 PM

When will the Stranger stop promoting graffiti and the defacement of public property? What about the costs of cleaning up this mess? And, Slog had the nerve to complain about the spray painted fountain they ran in this column earlier in the week. Wonder how these "artists" find their encouragement? Their handy work gets covered and promoted in the Stranger! Let's see Dan & Co. contribute some profits to cleaning up Capitol Hill.

Posted by atlsea | April 10, 2008 3:11 PM

I thought postering was legal. Or is that just on wooden telephone poles?

Posted by w7ngman | April 10, 2008 4:15 PM

Yes, the poster gets at the heart of the problem here--The War Economy. Trillions of dollars are going into corporate pockets here in the Land of the Brave--and have been since the National Security State was established by Truman. Ike saw it, and even warned us about the Military/Industrial complex in his final speech to the nation. Billions were made on world wars, then on a cold war with weapons we never used, and now on a "war on terror" and invasions/occupations of other countries, and now devolving into privatized security and military companies such as Blackwater and Halliburton. We keep having these "wars" to justify these huge expenditures, to fund a War Economy even in "Peacetime", and the reasons for them keep getting more specious.

Until that underlying foundation is changed (and don't ask me how--global climate catastrophe seems to be the only thing more powerful, unalterable by sheepish public opinion, and able to halt it) and as long as the American Economy has so much money at stake in making arms, using arms, and selling arms to other countries, this cycle will not stop.

Start saving all your pennies, America, this current $3 Trillion Dollar debacle (estimate by a Nobel-prize winning economist) is going to cost you, your kids, your kids' kids...

What a waste.

Posted by Andy Niable | April 11, 2008 9:09 AM

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