Monday :: Jan 15, 2007

The Sky-rocketing Costs of War

by Mary

George W. Bush wars are quite expensive. In fact, you could think of his wars as being the gold and diamond faucet option for the 2,000 square foot remodelled bathroom, because though we are failing to "win" by any stretch of the imagination, the operating costs are beginning to approach the total costs of Vietnam War (adjusted for inflation).

Note these costs (somewhere between $471 billion and $507 billion) are only the operating costs. The actual costs are much higher. Indeed, the actual costs (the cost to replace all those armored vehicles and to care for the injured during the decades ahead) are not considered in those billions. If you add in those costs, then the cost starts to approach $2 trillion. These are the true costs of war and just as GM has to calculate how to cover the pension and healthcare costs of their retirees when they set a price on a new car, the government should use standard open accounting practices to understand the real costs of war.

The CS Monitor speculates that, for the most part, people haven't realized that the reason they aren't feeling the pinch is because the costs are being borrowed against future generations. And those generations won't be simply paying $2T, they'll be paying it back with interest. Perhaps this is Norquist's new scheme? Namely: to drown government in blood rather than red ink.

Let's hope the Democratic Congress can move the costs from the emergency budget to the standard budgets because then the money will have more scrutiny.

"Calling it an emergency means the spending does not get the scrutiny," he adds, because then the spending is reviewed by only one committee – House Appropriations. In addition, he says, emergency spending is exempt from caps on discretionary spending. This has prompted the military to include in the bill items that are not directly related to the war. Making the spending a part of the budget would end the practice of some members placing pet projects on a bill that must be passed, he says.

Looking into the Appropriates Committee role in passing extravagant war budgets over the past few years would result in a fruitful investigation as well. Yet as I noted this weekend, the administration is moving fast to put the kibosh on that, because it is highly likely that the reason US Attorney Carol Lam was asked to resign was because her investigation was getting too close to Jerry Lewis who was the Appropriations Committee chairman and he knows where a whole bunch of bodies are buried.

Mary :: 9:42 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!