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Cost of War
FN Posted: Wed Dec 17 08:33:25 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Just visit this site, the accuracy is open to debate but it's interesting any way.

FN Posted: Wed Dec 17 08:36:59 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  How we got the numbers

Cost of Deployment and Return

To keep the Cost of War counter accurate, we periodically readjust our estimate to keep up with the the announced costs of the invasion. The most recent adjustment occurred on August 5, 2003. Department of Defense Comptroller Dov Zakheim on April 16, 2003 briefed the press on the Pentagon's estimate that to date the war had cost between $10-$12 billion in military operations, including the cost of airlift and sealift of troops and equipment, plus another $9 billion in the first 3 1/2 weeks of conflict. He added that the cost of returning troops and equipment to base would be another $5-$7 billion, for a total of between $24-$28 billion. We have taken the middle figure, $26 billion, and used it as the cost of the war up until April 17.

The Fiscal 2003 Supplemental

Appropriations Bill, (H.R. 1559) allocated some $8 billion to garner foreign support for the war (in further military and economic aid to several countries, including Jordan, Israel, and Egypt) and to help reconstruct Iraq (including over $400 million to ensure the proper functioning of Iraq's oil industry). The entire legislation is available through the Library of Congress legislative database; the Council for a Livable World published a useful summary. The Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Joshua Bolten, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 29 that by June 30 the US had already spent $2 billion in reconstruction funds, but Administration officials avoided saying how much would be spent on reconstruction in the coming months. We have included this $8 billion figure although it may be slightly high; if so, will readjust it once the government provides more exact information.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 9 and in an interview on ABC's "This Week" on July 13 that the US military occupation is costing at least $3.9 billion a month.We began that rate on April 18.

Interest Costs

With the government projected to run one of the largest deficits in history, it is not enough to simply consider the cost of the war today; we must also consider how much money we will be spending on it for years to come. To this end, we include the cost of interest payments in our total cost of war. We have chosen to use 10-year Treasury Notes for this calculation, and we use an interest rate of 4%. These decisions are explained in greater detail below. The net result, however, is that the cost of the war is 40% higher than the stated cost, due to 4% simple interest for 10 years. Therefore, although the stated cost of the war on April 17 was $34 billion, the actual cost was closer to $47.6 billion, due to the $13.6 billion we will be spending in interest. In addition, the cost of occupation is more accurately stated as $5.46 billion monthly, of which $1.56 billion is interest.

The 10-year Treasury Note is not the only way to calculate interest, and it is true that shorter term instruments would result in lower interest costs. However, we chose the 10-year notes because Treasury Notes comprise the greatest component of the federal debt, and during the pre- and post-invasion periods, the government sold enough 10-year Treasury Notes to cover the buildup, war, and occupation. Without those costs, it would have been unnecessary to sell those securities. Overall, the average interest rate on government securities (used to finance the debt) is closer to 5 percent, but we have used an interest rate of 4% (or 40% over the term of the loan) because it more closely parallels the 10-year Treasury Note.

Several visitors to the site have challenged the use of interest: Why add the deficit costs to the war's accounting? Why not add it to the cost of funding for the Food and Drug Administration or the Federal Aviation Administration? Simply put, these type of programs are both essential and long-standing. The invasion and occupation of Iraq represents "new spending" by the Bush administration that goes above and beyond the existing budget. Thus, we feel it is safe to say that the war is being financed through deficit spending while other domestic programs are funded through tax dollars. Note that any social spending we might have done in place of the war would also have to be funded through deficit spending.

The reason that war costs and social costs must both include interest is that if we were to spend the money used to wage the war to fund public housing, that money would still be incurring interest as it would still be above and beyond the existing budget. Therefore, we use a figure for the cost of war which does not include interest in order to compare against social programs. So, for example, if the total cost of war (including interest) is $70 billion, that is the equivalent of spending $50 billion on the war and $20 billion on interest. Therefore, we will show how many additional children could attend Head Start for $50 billion dollars, not $70 billion, and assume that the remaining $20 billion would have been spent on interest either way.

We know that regularly tweaking the calculator may be a bit confusing ("last week the Cost of War calculator was at $72 billion, but now it's at $68 billion") but we prefer accuracy to inflexibility. And we hope that the underlying theme of this site, that the war not only comes at a social cost in Iraq but in the United States as well, remains clear regardless of the exact dollar amount.

Elias Vlanton and Niko Matsakis
July 7, 2003


Comparative Costs

Please see this paragraph regarding the use of interest when comparing the cost of war and that of the social programs listed below.
Head Start
The cost of a child in Head Start comes from the Head Start Program Fact Sheet issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The average cost per child for 2002 of $6,934 was raised by 2% to adjust for inflation to $7,073.

Children's Health Care

The figure of $2,333 per child insured under Medicare is from the National Priorities Project's analysis of the trade-offs of military spending. The average cost of Medicaid per child is based on the most recent figures available (1998) and then adjusted for inflation by 10% a year (to compensate for the faster rate of inflation in health care).

Affordable Housing

The figure of $70,000 per housing unit is based on the work of the National Priorities Project, and specifically their comparison of the costs of military spending and its alternatives: Military Spending and What it Could Really Pay For.


The US Department of Labor's 2000 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates gives the average wage for elementary and secondary teachers as $42,000. In line with the analysis of the work of the National Priorities Project, we have increased this number by $25% to reflect the cost of benefits for a total of $52,500.

Four-Year College Scholarships

The College Board report Trends in College Pricing estimated that the cost of attending a four year public college or university in 2002 was $9,963, or $38,652 for four years. To this figure was added 2% to adjust for inflation, or $39,425.

FN Posted: Wed Dec 17 08:59:42 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Nothing to do with anything just thought this was funny: (from

Your post is the world's greatest proof of reincarnation; no one could get that dumb in just one lifetime. Try learning elementary grammar before attempting to inflict your next literary abomination on this message board.

Thanks for your contribution, but if I had wanted to hear from somebody with your IQ, I'd be at my local supermarket talking to the vegetables. Are you always this ignorant, or are you making a special effort today? Anyway, who was talking to you or even taking you under consideration? I suggest you need Mark Twain's advice; "It is better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt."

You light up a room when you leave it. No doubt your life is so dull, that you can actually write your diary one week in advance. I bet you thought it was just coincidence that your parents had the same surnames before they married? Maybe you wouldn't be such a Jerk-In-The-Box if you weren't an 'idiot savant' without the 'savant' part; if your weren't so fat that your clothes come in three sizes: Extra Large, Jumbo, and Oh-My-God-It's-Coming-Towards-Us!, or if you didn't have a face like a boiled Octopus. Nah, of course you would.

In conclusion, why don't you go away and play Russian roulette with all chambers fully-loaded?

ifihadahif Posted: Wed Dec 17 10:04:50 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  one fact that this fails to take into account is that our military gets paid whether or not they are fighting.
granted, costs escalate when we are in a war, when you take this into account, the costs are not as dramatic as one might think.
Also, one might take into account the cost of not fighting. See the Iraqi foreign minister's address to the UN yesterday.


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