Iraq War Costs
The Iraq war is draining American resources that should be spent on American needs. Across the United States, bridges are cracking, school roofs are leaking, and families are struggling with rising costs. With so many pressing needs here, we cannot afford to continue shipping our resources overseas. The future of America depends on investing in places like Birmingham and Baltimore, not Baghdad.
The Iraq war has contributed to the soaring price of oil. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimated that the war increased oil prices by at least $5 to $10 per barrel and later called that estimate “unrealistically conservative.” [Stiglitz] Other economists have estimated a much greater impact. Mamdouh Salameh of the Oil Market Consultancy Service, says that oil might still cost about $40 per barrel if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq. [Salameh]
Americans know that the Iraq war has damaged our economy. Despite ample evidence to the contrary, Bush-McCain conservatives continue to insist that war is good for the economy. Americans don’t believe that. A CNN poll found that 71 percent of Americans think “the amount of money the U.S. has spent on the war in Iraq is one reason for the economic problems the country is facing today.” [PollingReport.com]
It’s time for a responsible, phased removal of all combat troops from Iraq. Set a date and put the Iraqis on notice. The “conditions on the ground” we should be focused on are right here in the United States. It is time to give the Iraqis incentives to get their own house in order, not spend billions subsidizing them to continue to rely on our troops and our resources.
The cost of Iraq in lives lost and scarred is incalculable. It has also had staggering economic costs here at home.
So far, the federal government has authorized $656 billion for the Iraq war. Of that total, $152 billion was appropriated to fund the Iraq war during the current fiscal year. [Congressional Research Service] That amounts to more than $12 billion per month and $416 million per day. These figures include neither operations in Afghanistan nor anti-terrorism programs elsewhere around the world nor the costs of caring for the wounded or replenishing our arsenals. Iraq war costs do include $34 billion spent for construction projects in Iraq, training and equipping Iraqi soldiers and police officers, contracts with and grants to Iraqi organizations and businesses, and funds used to prop up Iraqi government operations.
With $656 billion—the direct cost of the war in Iraq since 2003—we could have:
- Brought to “good condition” all of America’s deteriorating public structures—bridges and roads, airports and railroads, schools and parks, water and sewer systems; [American Society of Civil Engineers] or
- Paid for a college education for every high school graduate over the next decade; [U.S. Department of Education] or
- Eliminated hunger worldwide. [Reuters]
With $152 billion—one year of funding for the war in Iraq—we could have:
- Provided high-quality health insurance coverage for the 47 million men, women, and children who are uninsured; [Economic Policy Institute, New York Times] or
- Paid the cost of Social Security benefits for three years; [Social Security Administration] or
- Invested 300 times more money than is currently allocated to research and develop renewable energy technology. [Center for American Progress]
With $12 billion—one month of funding for the war in Iraq—we could have:
- Covered the 4 million children who were denied health insurance coverage when President Bush vetoed SCHIP funding; [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities] or
- Tripled the budget for cancer research at the National Cancer Institute; or
- Carried out all 9/11 Commission recommendations. [New York Times]
With $416 million—one day of funding for the war in Iraq—we could have:
- Secured our homes with 160 new police officers in every state; [Bureau of Labor Statistics] or
- Helped more than 100,000 students afford college with Pell Grants of $4,000 apiece; [U.S. Department of Education] or
- Lowered class sizes in public schools by hiring 8,300 new teachers. [Bureau of Labor Statistics]
The long-term costs of the war will exceed $3 trillion. Economic expert Linda Bilmes and Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz estimate the direct long-term costs of the Iraq war at over $3 trillion. [Washington Post] That includes the cost of caring for wounded veterans, repairing and replacing worn-out military weapons and equipment, and paying interest on the national debt caused by the war. This staggering sum could have:
- Paid off 1/3 of the national debt; or
- Paid not only for our transition to energy independence, but also provided our nation with the most modern and efficient transport, communications and waters systems in the world, while creating literally millions of jobs here at home.