The Hidden Costs of Iraq, Afghanistan Total $1.5 Trillion

This post, written by Steve Benen, originally appeared on The Carpetbagger Report

Any discussion of the cost of the wars in the Middle East have to start with the price paid by U.S. troops. Thousands of died, and tens of thousands have returned home with serious injuries.

But when considering "blood and treasure," there's also that latter part of the equation. Generally, the wars' price tag is determined by adding up all of the expenditures so far. Occasionally, we'll see estimates that include interest on the national debt, because the Bush administration has decided to put the wars on the national charge card.

But congressional Dems went one step further in offering a more comprehensive look at the financial costs of the wars.
The economic costs to the United States of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so far total approximately $1.5 trillion, according to a new study by congressional Democrats that estimates the conflicts' "hidden costs"- including higher oil prices, the expense of treating wounded veterans and interest payments on the money borrowed to pay for the wars.
That amount is nearly double the $804 billion the White House has spent or requested to wage these wars through 2008, according to the Democratic staff of Congress's Joint Economic Committee. Its report, titled "The Hidden Costs of the Iraq War," estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have thus far cost the average U.S. family of four more than $20,000.
"The full economic costs of the war to the American taxpayers and the overall U.S. economy go well beyond even the immense federal budget costs already reported," said the 21-page draft report, obtained yesterday by The Washington Post.
The report argues that war funding is diverting billions of dollars away from "productive investment" by American businesses in the United States. It also says that the conflicts are pulling reservists and National Guardsmen away from their jobs, resulting in economic disruptions for U.S. employers that the report estimates at $1 billion to $2 billion.
Whether our "investment" is paying off is a little less clear.

The WaPo noted that some funding experts agreed that there are hidden costs the nation generally doesn't consider, but added that some of these costs are hard to quantify.

For example, Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs (International) and a member of the National Security Council staff under Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter, said, "The wars will cost a lot more than the appropriated sums, and it's certainly true our children will be paying for this for a long, long time. I'm very critical of the way they have financed the war, but I always hesitate to try to quantify any of these things, to make these numerical judgments."

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